Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigned in Delaware County Monday afternoon, inviting Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to join him for a rally and town meeting in Chester Township. The visit drew more attention than typical campaign events because many regard Rubio as a potential running mate for the presumptive Republican nominee.
Though no one in the Romney campaign was saying it, the gathering on the eve of the Pennsylvania and Delaware primaries seemed like a vice presidential audition for Rubio — a chance for him and Romney to spend time together, and for Romney and his team to see how Rubio connects with crowds.
The rally and town meeting at the warehouse of a trucking firm called Mustang Expediting followed the script of most Romney campaign events.
Both men appeared in casual attire with open-collared shirts. Romney focused on President Barack Obama and the nation’s struggling economy, and attacked his health-care law. But Rubio wasn’t there just to watch. Romney made sure he had his chance to answer questions, and tell his life story. Rubio spoke about his parents, who he said came to the U.S. from Cuba, without money, friends, or education.
“And, if my dad were still alive today, and my mom hopefully is watching, it would have been unimaginable that I would standing here today. Now why is that?” Rubio asked.
“It’s not because I worked harder than them. It’s not because I’m any smarter than they were,” Rubio said. “It’s because I had something they didn’t. I had the privilege and the honor of being born in the single greatest society in all of human history!”
Rubio drew enthusiastic applause from the crowd and rave reviews from voters after the event.
“Those guys in Florida are lucky to have him as their senator, aren’t they?” Romney said as he thanked Rubio for making the trip from Washington. In a brief news conference before the event, one reporter noted that Romney has criticized Obama as inexperienced and in over his head, and asked if Rubio, a first-term senator, is ready to be vice president.
Romney said he’s not evaluating running mates yet.”I don’t think I have any comments on qualifications for any individuals,” Romney said. “That’s something we’re going to be considering down the road as we consider various potential vice presidential nominees.”
Asked to respond, Rubio said he just isn’t talking about that issue.
Romney also told reporters he favors congressional action to extend a cap on student loan interest rates that’s due to expire July 1.