Rubio, Courting Voters, Sticks To Script As Volunteers Pour In

Feb 7, 2016

Marco Rubio speaks at Londonderry High School Sunday.
Credit Kate Brindley for NHPR

  Republican senator Marco Rubio spent Sunday campaigning around the state—from a pancake breakfast in Londonderry to a Super Bowl watch party in Manchester. His stops came a day after Saturday’s GOP debate where other candidates challenged Rubio’s readiness for the job. 

Addressing the crowd packed tightly into a school cafeteria , Senator Marco Rubio said something he’s come back to time and again while campaigning in New Hampshire.

"I said this before I am going to say this every chance that I get: Barack Obama is wanting to change America. I don’t want to be like the rest of the world, I want to be the United States!"

Yes—that is a version of what Rubio said three times in a row during Saturday night’s GOP debate, the line New Jersey governor Chris Christie called memorized, canned Washington speak. But here in Bedford Rubio said he would continue to keep saying that line—because it’s what he believes.

While lots of folks in the audience nodded along to Rubio like they were listening to a favorite song, others like Doris Lotts—were just seeing Rubio for the first time Sunday. Before going out candidate shopping all day, Lotts caught the debate, including Christie’s criticisms.

"I think it uncovered his inexperience. You can’t be rattled. We’re picking a leader for our nation here," says Lotts.

But earlier this weekend, hundreds of people whose minds are made up for Rubio poured into New Hampshire and through the doors of his headquarters to offer up their energy.

16-year-old Mike Brodo’s been showing up at 7 in the morning on the weekends, driving an hour and a half back and forth from Massachusetts to make phone calls.

"It’s my passion because I believe in the future. I think America is the greatest country in the world and I think we can continue to be that with new conservative leadership."

Kathy Bove of Londonderry says she’s known for a long time that Rubio was her guy. "I knew it it just hit me right it the gut--he has to win!"

Bove has trouble walking, so she’s been in here calling people around the state, and out to see Rubio whenever she can. "I’ve seen him probably eight times or more, Bove says. "It’s just emotional, you know."

That kind of emotion Bove’s talking about—it may be what some Granite Staters are still holding out for before, they head to the polls tomorrow.