Rubio, Trump Rally Voters In Las Vegas Ahead Of GOP Presidential Debate

Dec 15, 2015
Originally published on December 15, 2015 7:50 am
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And tonight, we'll be hearing from Republican presidential candidates debating in Las Vegas. Two of them held rallies ahead of this last Republican debate of the year. NPR's Sam Sanders has that story.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Marco Rubio and Donald Trump's rallies were held less than a mile apart just off the Las Vegas Strip, but they couldn't have been more different.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Sen. Marco Rubio.

SANDERS: Rubio's was in a medium-sized hotel ballroom. For a while, it seemed he wouldn't even fill the space. And Rubio was nice, at least when it came to talking about his Republican competitors.

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MARCO RUBIO: The way I view it is we're going to have nine people on that stage and a few others in the earlier debate. Not a single one of them is a socialist, not one.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

RUBIO: We're going to have nine people on that stage and another three or four earlier. Not a single one of them is being investigated by the FBI.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

RUBIO: So I think we're off to a really good start compared to the other side.

SANDERS: He was much harsher on Obama when he hit the president on ISIS.

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RUBIO: And so last Sunday, the president spoke to the nation in an effort to calm us and make us feel more comfortable. I swear to you I wish he hadn't spoken at all because what he basically said...

(APPLAUSE)

RUBIO: What he basically said was, I know these things are going on, but I'm not changing anything. Our strategy is working.

SANDERS: Rubio was in his element after he spoke, shaking hands, taking pictures, smiling. Natalie Rita (ph) was in the crowd. She said even if Rubio isn't as attention-grabbing as some of the other candidates, he's got something else.

NATALIE RITA: I respect Rubio 'cause he's classy. And I'm not saying Trump's not. I'm just saying he has a habit of not knowing when and when not to turn his filters off. And as president, you know, I want to be able to respect the man who's the face of our country.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Trump revolution.

SANDERS: Donald Trump's rally was a different scene entirely. The crowd was in the thousands. People lined up for hours. Even the music was louder, and Trump riffed on just about everything.

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DONALD TRUMP: The Iran deal - incompetent.

Now I hear Bergdahl - not jail time for Bergahl - I mean, no jail time.

We have much, much crime - so much all over the place.

We're going to have a border. We're going to build a wall, and Mexico is going to pay for the wall.

China is ripping us off.

Japan is ripping us off.

SANDERS: Trump talked about ISIS and Obamacare and corporate tax loopholes. Hecklers interrupted him multiple times.

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TRUMP: Do I hear some noise over there? Yes, I do.

SANDERS: Each time, they were taken out by security, some forcibly as the crowd yelled and chanted and Trump kept going.

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TRUMP: Bye-bye.

SANDERS: He mocked a journalist who said Ted Cruz is surging in the polls. He mocked Hillary Clinton for being too scripted. He called multiple candidates low-energy. About 40 minutes in, people started to leave, but he kept going. Trump talked for an hour. But afterwards, a lot said they enjoyed it, like Trump supporter Lenny Rock (ph).

LENNY ROCK: Trump creates a lot of energy. He gets you going. He's saying all the right things. He's saying exactly what we want to have done in this country.

SANDERS: But at least one person there disagreed. I first met Mary Parks (ph) at Marco Rubio's event earlier in the day, and she liked him.

MARY PARKS: Oh, yeah, great chap.

SANDERS: Parks and her husband went to Trump's rally as well.

PARKS: You know, we're just curious.

SANDERS: But Parks ended up leaving the Trump event before it was done. She said Trump just talked for too long, and maybe she raises the question of this election - who will voters get tired of hearing first? Sam Sanders, NPR News, Las Vegas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.