By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — "This election is not like any other," Marco Rubio told a crowd that filled the Belknap Mill to capacity and beyond yesterday. "It is an referendum on our identity as a nation and a people."
Fresh from his strong showing in Iowa, where he captured nearly a quarter of the vote in the caucuses and joined Donald Trump and Ted Cruz at the front of the Republican presidential field, Rubio looks to confirm his position as the most electable alternative to the most controversial and most conservative candidates in the New Hampshire Presidential Primary next week.
Rubio reaffirmed the exceptional character of the United States, then, sounding an ominous note, warned that "The things that made us special are slipping away. We are on the verge of being a great nation in decline, and it began with the election in 2008." President Obama, he said, has sought "to change America." But he protested to clamorous applause "We don't want to be like the rest of the world. We want to be the United States of America."
"Our greatest days are before us," Rubio said, "but only if we make the right choice. Anger is not a plan. Frustration is not a plan," he explained, offering himself as the one candidate who can unite both the conservative movement and the Republican Party. ""If we are not together, we won't win,"
Rubio emphasized that among all the candidates for the GOP nomination, he was the one the Democrats feared the most. "They do not want to run against me," he said. "But, I can't wait to run against Hillary Clinton."
After taking the oath of office, Rubio said he would go straight to the Oval Office in the White House where right away he would repeal all the "illegal" executive orders issued by President Obama, revoke the "crazy EPA rules," halt federal intervention in public education and scrap the nuclear accord with Iran. He also vowed to repeal Obamacare and "put you back in charge of your health care decisions." And he said he would lower taxes and ease regulations to spur economic growth and reduce the national debt.
Rubio said that, as a Cuban-American, his experience with the issues arising from immigration is unmatched.
"I live it every day," he said. "Nothing can happen until illegal immigration is under control," he insisted.
To ensure terrorists do not enter the country in the guise of immigrants or refugees, he said entry would be denied to anyone whose identity could be be verified and purpose could not be confirmed. He emphasized that he would oppose granting amnesty to illegal immigrants. Finally, he said that the entire immigration process must be reformed, proposing a system based on "merit," or what the individual immigrant would contribute to the country. "Are you coming to be an American or are you coming to live here," he said, "are two different things."
As president, Rubo said would "rebuild" the armed forces, which he claimed have been shrunken in numbers and weakened in strength by the Obama Administration, despite the severe threats posed by hostile states like China, Russia, North Korea and Iran and terrorist organizations like ISIS. The world, he stressed, is less dangerous and more peaceful when the United States is the strongest military power in it.
Returning to his candidacy, Rubio assured the crowd, "If you vote for me, we will win this election."
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