Rubio returns to Ames for final push before Iowa Caucuses

Marco Rubio spoke in Ames, Iowa at the Iowa State University Alumni Center. Rubio’s town hall consisted on questions from the crowd and meeting with supporters after on Jan. 23. 

Travis Charlson

Just across the parking lot from the Cyclone faithful — who have been camping outside of Hilton Coliseum all week to secure a seat at Monday’s big game against Kansas — gathered another enthusiastic crowd, showing support for Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio.

Rubio, currently a senator from Florida, was back in Ames to make one final push before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1.

Students and community members filed into the ISU Alumni Center to catch a glimpse of Rubio, who touched on a wide range of topics including ISIS, health care reform, education reform and economic relations with China. 

Rubio emphasized the importance of unifying the Republican Party, and argued he was the best suited candidate to do so. 

“There’s only one candidate left who can bring all the Republicans together and win the general election” said state Sen. Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, who is backing Rubio.

Rubio’s campaign has largely shied away from initiating attacks on other candidates, but still finds himself polling in third behind front-runners Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. 

Nevertheless, his supporters are optimistic about their chances in Iowa. 

“The momentum continues to build as we travel the state,” Whitver said. “We’re seeing the biggest crowds we’ve ever had.”

The crowd turnout for Rubio’s events seemingly increases each time he comes back to Iowa, picking up undecided and potential GOP caucusgoers along the way. 

“I didn’t know much about him coming in,” said Bailey Hoch, sophomore in kinesiology and health. “He really impressed me today.”

Hoch, originally from Wisconsin, said the caucus process is exciting and gives her great opportunities to get to know the candidates. 

Rubio has a slew of events scheduled in Iowa over the next couple of days before the caucus, but before he resumed his tour he stopped and visited with campers outside of Hilton Coliseum to play bean bags and hand out pizza.

Iowans are notorious for making up their minds at the last minute, Whitver said, which is a big reason why Rubio is making a big push to gain supporters.

“We’re gonna do the best we can to get as high as we can,” Whitver said. “I hope we do as well as we possibly can.”

Rubio visited Indianola, Cedar Rapids and Waterloo during the weekend.