MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One week before the Minnesota caucus, Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio is visiting Minneapolis Tuesday afternoon.
The senator from Florida spoke to about 1,600 people at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis before heading to Michigan.
Rubio is hoping to capitalize on public opinion polls in Minnesota showing him leading other Republican presidential candidates.
He told the crowd at the hastily-organized rally that he is the strongest candidate to unite Republicans and run against Democrats in the fall, promising to bring a conservative message of hard work and high reward to the White House.
“I come from a working family whose parents lived paycheck to paycheck, who deposited all their hopes and dreams in us,” Rubio said. “We’re going to take our message to the people that are living that way now, because in their hands is the future of this country. In their hands is the desire to achieve the American dream.”
Rubio has been organizing heavily in Minnesota recently, opening a state campaign office and getting the endorsements from top Republican leaders, including former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and U.S. Rep. John Kline.
Rubio did not mention Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at the rally, but he did indirectly mention GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.
“We can’t afford to lose. This cannot be an election about nominating someone just to make a point,” Rubio said. “This can’t just be an election about nominating someone just because they seem angrier than everybody else. We’re all angry. We’re all frustrated, but you have to solve a problem.”
Democrats are also ramping up their Minnesota efforts. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders visited Minnesota 10 days ago, both with heavy television ad buys.
Clinton supporters gathered just a mile away from Rubio’s event Tuesday to show their support.
“Are you ready? Do you have that energy? Are you ready to win the caucuses?” Lt. Gov. Tina Smith said.
Speakers, including Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, cited Clinton’s political background and her efforts to provide affordable health care.
“The amazing work that she has done … to get to where she is and to stay where she is is what lets us know that she has it in her to do what needs doing to become the president of the United States and to do the full job from day one,” Hodges said.
Other supporters echoed Hodges’ emphasis on Clinton’s experience.
“She’s more experienced, has a far better viewpoint of the United Nations, the world,” White Bear Lake resident Jill Crow said.
With one week to go before the Minnesota Caucuses, supporters on both sides of the aisle are hoping for a good turnout.
Minnesota Democrats and Republicans will hold their caucuses Tuesday, March 1 starting at 7 p.m.
To learn more about the voting requirements and to find a caucus location near you, click here.