Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., received a frosty reception from a Puerto Rican audience in Orlando on Tuesday, leaving the stage at a street festival to booing from the crowd.
According to NPR, Rubio was introduced at Calle Orange and was met with boos that seemed to drown out his supporters in attendance as he seeks reelection in two weeks. He said a few words and was booed again.
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"I'm going to introduce a man who represents Latinos, no matter where you're from," the PA announcer said in Spanish. NPR provided a translated version. "Ladies and gentlemen, the senator for the state of Florida, a Latino like you and me . . . his name is Marco Rubio! Applaud!"
The crowd rained a shower of boos on the Republican senator, who ran for president this year before bowing out of the race in March.
Rubio, a Cuban-American, said a few words in Spanish: "Thank you for having me today. I want you to enjoy this day. We're not going to talk about politics today. Thank God for this beautiful day, and for our freedom, our democracy, our vote, and our country. God bless you all, thank you very much."
The candidate is locked in a tight race with Democrat Patrick Murphy, and he has publicly supported Republican Donald Trump for president despite the real estate mogul's feelings on illegal immigration, a sensitive topic among Hispanic crowds.
However, despite his Cuban heritage, is struggling to gain strong support among Hispanic voters.
In a statement to Newsmax, the Rubio campaign downplayed the boos and said the reception at the event was mostly positive.
"This is an annual event that draws thousands of people, including many Democrats. While there were some boos in the crowds, overall the reception Marco received at Calle Orange was very positive," the campaign said. "In fact, Rubio supporters standing near the stage did not hear any boos while he was speaking. Marco kept his remarks short at the request of the hosts since it was not intended to be a political gathering.
"Marco has worked hard on behalf of the Puerto Rican community — from leading efforts to help Puerto Rico out of its financial crisis, to awarding the Borinqueneers with the Congressional Gold Medal, and making student loans more affordable. If reelected, he will continue to fight for the best interest of Florida's Hispanic community."
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