Johnnie Koromilas has been an active Republican in her home city of Dover for decades. And she did the honors when it came time to introduce Marco Rubio during his visit to the McConnell community center yesterday.
“As I have watched and listened to all the Republican candidates for the past eight months, I have found the one.”
Not everyone who turned out to see Rubio during this trip - which included a house party in Bedford, a visit to Manchester tech firm DYN and a town hall event in Wolfeboro, was as convinced - but Rubio campaigned like a guy confident in his powers of persuasion. He worked voters one on one at every stop: clapping veterans on the back, draping his arms around the shoulders of selfie-seekers. On stage, he sold a can-do vision of the nation’s future.
“Every challenge before us can be fixed but only if we turn the page, only if we realize that if we keep promoting the same people with the same ideas, the next person in line, that nothing will change. “
At 44, Rubio is the youngest candidate running for president. He’s the son of Cuban immigrants serving his first term in Washington, but he’s been in politics full time since the late-1990s. And few of Rubio’s policy stances stray from the mainstream of his party. He wants to lower the tax burden, and build up the military. Promising a foreign policy of “moral clarity,” Rubio told the crown in Wolfeboro he’s get tougher with Vladimir Putin, push back against China’s military build-up in the South China Sea and reverse course on the U.S.’s nuclear deal with Iran.
“Look guys, I’m am not a person - I don’t like war. I don’t think anyone should like war. It’s a horrifying thing, and, by the way, people in this audience who have been to war they can tell you it’s not any good. The problem is that weakness invites war.”
But it’s Rubio’s recent strength in polls here and nationally that is inviting bellicose treatment from rivals. His past support for comprehensive immigration reform remains a sore point with some in his party. And Republicans and Democrats are both criticizing Rubio for a less-than-perfect senate attendance record. Should Rubio continue to climb in the still-very crowded GOP field, so too will all the scrutiny.
“You know it’s a lifetime between now and February.”
Phyllis Woods is former member of the Republican National Committee who had been supporting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. With him gone she’s back to candidate shopping. She says she’s eyeing several but has liked Rubio since his 2010 Florida senate race, and liked what she saw yesterday. She says there is no doubt that Rubio’s stock is on the rise with local Republicans.
“He’s in everybody’s top three, or even top two.”
And with the New Hampshire Primary more than 3 months off, that’s a fine place to be.