It felt like good-bye.
Marco Rubio’s West Miami homecoming Monday night bid farewell to his Florida presidential campaign — and, perhaps, if he’s unsuccessful in Tuesday’s primary, to his entire candidacy.
Though billed as a rally, the event felt bittersweet. The crowd of several hundred people outdoors on a beautiful Miami night, was relatively subdued, despite the warm-up Pitbull soundtrack. People revved up once Rubio arrived but then quieted down to hear the candidate. A glitchy sound system forced Rubio to use an echo-y bullhorn from the bed of a gray Dodge Ram truck — not his own — parked in front of a massive American flag.
“We are going to win this election,” he said in English. Moments later, in Spanish, he amended his comment: “If this community doesn’t vote tomorrow in historic numbers, I’m not sure I’m going to win.”
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He spoke more in Spanish than English, reminiscing about his fast political rise. He stood at the West Miami Recreation Center, about half a mile from his home, in the park where he said he played basketball and met his wife, Jeanette, and down the street from City Hall, where his political story began.
“We’re not a community that gives up,” he said.
The Florida senator cracked a few jokes, repeating that he’d bring a caja china, or Cuban porok roaster, to the White House, and that its chefs would have to learn to make ham croquetas.
Rubio wrapped up in less than 20 minutes, without his usual build-up ending. He flashed two thumbs up. His supporters dispersed.
A few fans drove through the streets of West Miami, honking their horns.