Rising GOP star Sen. Marco Rubio went on the stump Monday for Ken Cuccinelli's trailing bid for Virginia governor, suggesting the "American dream" was at stake and that his election would send a message to the nation.
With less than two months until election day, Cuccinelli trails Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the polls and in fundraising, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
Rubio — a possible GOP presidential contender — told some 400 Republicans paying $50 a head that the nation had reached a "moment of extraordinary importance."
"This is a race that allows us to make a statement to the country that Americans are not prepared to give up on the American dream," he said.
Rubio also heaped praise on Cuccinelli's battle against the health law.
"Obamacare’s not just a theoretical debate anymore; it is hurting real people," he said. "There are people out there who are looking for a job who will not find one."
He said Cuccinelli's election will not only ensure Virginia is run by someone who supports free enterprise and limited government, but that it will initiate a "new renaissance of reaching the American Dream."
"This is a precursor for what's going to happen in 2014 and what’s going to happen after that in 2016," the Florida senator said, Politico reported.
"We can’t wait until 2016 to start the work. We’ve got to start now. We’ve got to start in Virginia."
Cuccinelli, who rose to national prominence because of his close affiliation with the tea party movement, spoke for fewer than 10 minutes before introducing Rubio, saying the GOP can send a message that a conservative candidate can win a purple state like Virginia.
"And all Americans will get that message," he said.
He also noted his early opposition to Obamacare — and McAuliffe's support of it.
"It’s worth remembering that [McAuliffe] didn’t think Obamacare went far enough," Cuccinelli said. "As governor, I’ll stop as much of that as I can."
As of June 30, McAuliffe had $6 million in cash on hand to Cuccinelli's $2.7 million, The Times-Dispatch reported.
Rubio's appearance was his third in the Richmond area in 18 months, the newspaper said.
Rubio is the first of a number of high-profile Republicans who will be on the stump for Cuccinelli.
On Tuesday in the D.C. suburb of Sterling, Cuccinelli will rally with conservative radio host Mark Levin and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is expected to headline a fundraiser for Cuccinelli Tuesday night, Politico reported.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has agreed to appear at an event before the election, it said. And campaign officials are talking with freshman Texas Sen. Ted Cruz about tacking on a campaign event to an already-scheduled appearance he’s making in Virginia.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley also has expressed interest, according to Politico.
McAuliffe, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has already appeared with first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Hillary Clinton will hold a fundraiser for him at her home on Sept. 30, and both she and former President Bill Clinton are expected to stump with McAuliffe in October, Politico reported.
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