SARASOTA — Making America great — again.
That was the theme of the Republican rally Saturday at Robarts Arena.
Hundreds of people enjoyed a free barbecue and listened to candidates Rick Scott,Marco Rubio and others give stump speeches about their vision for Florida’s — and America’s — future.
“Let’s keep America the single greatest society,” Senate hopeful Rubio said, as he promised the audience lower taxes, tougher immigration laws, and open and accountable government.
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As he went through a laundry list of issues that need to be fixed within the country — from the economy to immigration reform — Rubio reminded the audience that there is “nothing that is wrong with America that can’t be fixed with what’s right with America.”
Those talking points weren’t unique to Rubio. Gubernatorial candidate Scott, attorney general candidate Pam Bondi and incumbent District 13 U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan also reflected on those ideas, calling for smaller government and more state rights.
“This is our state and we will stop Obama from telling us how to live our lives,” Scott said.
“We will get back America.”
Of course, there was no avoiding the issue that was on the minds of most of the people in the room: the economy.
For Faye Luft, of Sarasota, it is the issue that has caused her a lot of stress. Until the rally.
“I’ve been in distress about it. My husband is a paint contractor and there was a time in December when he couldn’t get work. After hearing them, I have hope,” said Luft, 62. “The Republican party has always been for small businesses.”
Scott’s solution for this problem: more jobs in the private sector.
As the audience cheered “Take back America” and hollered for the candidates, there was no denying the rally’s backdrop was the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“We need to honor those individuals who died on Sept. 11,” Scott said.
Scott said the country has become divided since the terrorist attacks, implying that he would do his best to unite the state.
He said he would do that by asking Florida to hold him accountable for his words and actions.
“I want you to hold me accountable for everything said on the campaign trail,” Scott said.
Rubio closed the event by reminding supporters to get out and vote.
“The election is seven weeks and two days away,” he said. “But whose counting?”