Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio concluded his two-day swing in Northern Nevada Tuesday by addressing community leaders in Fallon followed by a rally at the convention center attended by more than 150 people.
The junior U.S. senator from Florida is no stranger to Nevada, having attended third-through-eighth grade in Las Vegas and visiting Reno on numerous occasions.
Prior to speaking, Rubio received a Fallon centennial coin from Mayor Ken Tedford, who thanked him for stopping in the Lahontan Valley. Fallon celebrated its centennial in 2008.
Rubio gave a condensed version of his campaign speech to business and education leaders followed by a question and answer session. By visiting Nevada, Rubio emphasized the importance the state has in selecting the next Republican nominee and possibly the next president.
“While every election is important, the next election is critical,” Rubio said.
Rubio, whose parents emigrated from Cuba to the United States in the mid-1950s, lived the American dream, but he sees that concept fading away as people struggle in their everyday lives and live from paycheck to paycheck. Others who had good jobs have lost them because of technology, or jobs have been outsourced to another country. His concern is for future generations.
He said young Americans are struggling in student debt and can’t buy a home, start a business or find a job.
“The American dream definitely makes us different from the rest of the world,” he said.
Yet, he issued a warning.
“If we continue own the road we are on right now, we will lose what makes America special,” he added.
Rubio, though, said he is worried that the next generation may be worse off than their parents. He said the United States must be able to compete in a global economy.
“Today, we have the most expensive business taxes in the world, the most complicated tax code in the world and the most out-of-control regulations,” he said.
According to Rubio, ideas are outdated and leaders don’t know what to do.
Furthermore, he said Americans are trapped in their education.
“We must confront the higher ed monopoly that exists in America and modernize the system to meet the needs of our people in this new era,” he pointed out.
Rubio said the need is there for those wanting to take vocational classes or complete technological programs.
“Many of the best jobs in the 21st century will need more education than high school but less than four years in college,” he said.
His comments regarding a strong military and keeping America safe received positive reaction in this military community. He said a lunatic is leading North Korea, the Chinese are expanding into the South China Sea and hacking into U.S. computer systems, a “gangster” in charge of Russia is trying to divide Europe and Iran is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons. He said the country must rebuild the military to face the challenges of today’s world and five-to-10 years from now.
Rubio said the country’s foreign policy must show more clarity so that America’s allies trust Washington and feel the government is not leaving them behind.
In his question-and-answer session, Rubio was asked specific questions ranging from education to land.
His first question dealt with the party’s leadership and their commitment. Rubio first replied that he became a conservative because Ronald Reagan was president when he, Rubio, was in his teens. He said Republicans including the leadership still believe in free enterprise and smaller government. He said the Republican Party cares about the people and wants to crate ore jobs.
LVN columnist and Fallon businessman Tom Riggins said he was concerned with the number of career federal employees and their philosophy.
“You mean the bureaucracy?” Rubio shot back.
Rubio said when Congress passes more regulations, it costs Americans.
“Every time we write new regulations, we have more people (federal employees) to enforce regulations,” he said.
On the contrary, Rubio said the government should be shrinking, not increasing the federal workforce.
He said every employee should be removed because of incompetence. In 2014, he said Congress gave the new secretary of the Veterans Administration the power to fire administrators for not doing their jobs. So far, he said only one has been fired.
“My secretary of the VA would go in and clean house and fire people who are not doing their jobs,” Rubio said.
County Commissioner Bus Scharmann asked Rubio his position of the federal government owning so much state land. In Nevada the feds own 84 percent.
Rubio said he would be open to the transfer of lands from the federal government to the state and private parties.
“I don’t believe the federal government should own as much land in Nevada,” he said.
Former Commissioner Norm Frey expressed frustration with the checkerboard pattern of land holdings either between the federal and local governments or the feds and private owners. Frey said the checkerboard land holdings stifle local development. Rubio said he would be open to transfer of lands to private owners.
Rubio was asked about the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. The senator discussed healthcare in his opening remarks, and said it is a detriment to the economy. According to Rubio, Obamacare must be repealed because it has lowered the quality of healthcare that people are receiving while premiums are costing more
Rubio said if the private sector was selling health insurance, the companies would be fighting to sell policies to the public.
Additionally, Rubio said employees are turning down promotions, for example, for fear of losing subsidies with their current policies.
Rubio was asked about his accomplishments in the U.S. Senate since he was first elected in November 2010. He said an anti-human trafficking bill requiring foreign countries to issue birth certificates to girls was monumental. He said it makes it harder for traffickers to sell or abduct the children.
He also said he was proud not to approve the extension of the debt ceiling.
Western Nevada College President Chet Burton asked Rubio to elaborate on his position on vocational education. Rubio said it’s acceptable that some students want to be a doctor or lawyer, but that the workforce also needs welders and others who work in the trades.
Rubio also likes the idea of students taking trade-school courses while still attending high school.
One person asked Rubio to discuss immigration. He said it is important to bring the immigration problem under control with the undocumented residents and to do it in steps.
In another question regarding education, Rubio responded by saying the country does not need a Department of Education, and he does not believe in Common Core standards, which he called a national curriculum.
Rubio said communities and state must create their own curriculum.
Those in attendance said they were impressed with Rubio. Bob Clifford attended the Basque Fry three weeks ago when four Republican presidential candidates attended the event in Gardnerville, hosted by Attorney General Adam Laxalt.
“He’s bright and has a great sense of balance in how to handle the issues,” Clifford said. “I like his approach on educational and immigration.”
Clifford said he likes Rubio’s leadership ideas of where to take America after the next election.
Burton said Rubio is setting the tempo when he discussed education and the need for more vocational courses and programs offered in the high-school setting.