Rubio in Iowa to help Ernst wrap up 2014 primary campaign

Florida Senator Marco Rubio says it’s his son’s ninth birthday today, but he came to Iowa to campaign for Joni Ernst, the GOP senate candidate who faces four opponents in tomorrow’s primary election.

Marco Rubio at rally“Don’t worry, we’re going to make it up Sunday with a big paintball party,” Rubio assured the crowd gathered in a parking lot outside the Ernst campaign office (which, by the way, was Herman Cain’s Iowa Caucus headquarters and is across the street from Michelle Bachmann’s 2012 Iowa Caucus HQ).

“I’m here for the same reason I ran for office because I don’t want him to be part of the first generation of Americans than inherits a county worse than the one their parents inherited,” Rubio told the crowd.

During an interview with Radio Iowa before the rally, Rubio said his endorsement is not an indictment of the other four candidates Ernst faces on tomorrow’s primary ballot.

“We actually have never done primary races before,” he said. “We got involved in this one because there was an exceptional candidate in this race…and we’re just desperate to have more people up there — not just more Republicans, but more reformers.”

Democrat Tom Harkin announced in January, 2013 that he would not seek reelection, so for the first time in decades, Iowa has an open U.S. Senate seat.

“Iowa can very much expect that on election night in November the whole country will be watching the results here,” Rubio said. “…Obviously Iowa has an important place in the country every four years nationally so I think from the political perspective people in Iowa understand what national politics is all about.”

Are you laying the groundwork for 2016?

Marco Rubio“That’s not the reason why we’re here today. I’ll have to make decisions about my own future at the end of this year because I’m up for reelection and in Florida you can’t run for two offices,” Rubio said. “So the time will come for that.”

Florida state legislators and Florida’s governor could change the law.

“We’re not going to change the law in Florida,” Rubio said. “We shouldn’t.”

Rubio’s appearance helps “build momentum” for voting tomorrow, Ernst said.  About 100 people gathered for a barbeque in a suburban parking lot before Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, Rubio and Ernst spoke to the crowd for about 15 minutes.

The polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and Ernst plans to be among the first to vote at her precinct in Red Oak.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.