Tags: GOP2016 | Immigration | Marco Rubio | marco rubio | nevada | campaign | hispanics

Marco Rubio Tours Nevada Amid High Hopes, Challenges

Image: Marco Rubio Tours Nevada Amid High Hopes, Challenges
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By    |   Thursday, 28 May 2015 10:18 AM

Sen. Marco Rubio makes his first presidential campaign tour through purple Nevada Thursday, an early nominating state that twice voted for President Barack Obama.

Florida’s junior senator has personal ties to Nevada, a state that is critical to getting the Republican nomination, The Washington Post reported.

He lived in Las Vegas as a child, from 1979 to 1985, when his Cuban immigrant parents took jobs as casino workers his father was a bartender, his mother a hotel maid. It was also in Nevada that the family joined the Mormon Church for a time before returning to their Catholic faith.

Nevada’s growing Hispanic population could be a boon to Rubio, whose background lends him credibility with "the heavily immigrant population of service workers who have helped turn Nevada into a Democratic-leaning swing state during presidential elections," according to The Associated Press.

At the same time, the AP also notes, the state has a large organized labor movement yet possesses firm libertarian leanings, which have resulted in the election of a Republican governor and Republican members of Congress.

"Nevada — especially Las Vegas — is much more representative of the rest of the country than Iowa and New Hampshire in many different ways," political expert Jon Ralston told the Post. "Las Vegas is a melting pot, a strong union town in a right-to-work state. It has a burgeoning Asian and Hispanic population."

The state could be a "bellwether" for Rubio, he said.

Before Obama carried the Silver State in 2008 and 2012, Nevadans twice voted for George W. Bush.

But immigration could pose a problem for Rubio in Nevada, which is home to the 14th largest Hispanic population in the country and saw its Hispanic population increase by 66 percent between 2000 and 2011, when it reached 738,295, according to a February 2013 Pew Research Center report.

Some 27.3 percent of the state’s population is of Hispanic origin, according to the 2010 Census.

Rubio reversed course on his support for a comprehensive immigration reform bill and now advocates a "piecemeal approach that begins with border security and enforcing current laws," according to the Post.

He’s facing criticism on two fronts, according to the newspaper: From Democrats who are trying to portray him as "outdated, despite his 'New American Century' campaign platform" and from the most conservative members of his own party who tout him as not tough enough on immigration.

He may also face stiff competition in Nevada from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has the backing of a large contingent of Hispanics.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul also has his sights set on winning the state, but the Post reports that his chances could be hampered if it changes its current caucus to a primary. The former caters to party activists who draw "immense loyalty" from a limited pool of supporters.

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Sen. Marco Rubio makes his first presidential campaign tour through purple Nevada Thursday, an early nominating state that twice voted for President Barack Obama.
marco rubio, nevada, campaign, hispanics
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2015-18-28
Thursday, 28 May 2015 10:18 AM
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