EASLEY — It was standing room only at Easley High School as thousands decided to spend their Valentine’s Day with their candidate of choice for the 2016 Presidential race, Marco Rubio.
“Sunday afternoon on Valentine’s Day is a tough sell,” said Rep. Neal Collins, who introduced the Senator from Florida along with S.C. Sen. Tim Scott and Easley Mayor Larry Bagwell. “I thought ‘How am I going to get 903 people to an auditorium on Sunday on Valentine’s Day?’ It took about four days. We not only filled this auditorium up once, we not only filled it up twice, but we’ve almost filled it up almost three times thanks to you all.”
Rubio began by addressing the sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, expressing sympathy toward his family and vowing that his seat would be filled “by the next president, not by this one.”
“There is no way the Senate should confirm anyone that Barack Obama tries to appoint in his last year in office to a lifetime appointment,” Rubio said.
The perils of big government and student loan debt were just a couple of the many topics Rubio covered during his roughly 45 minute speech.
“Look at the people who come to America from all over the world. You know why they come here? To get away from big government. To get away from countries that do what this president is trying to do. This makes no sense. Why would we want to become like a place where people get on boats and rafts to get away from? It makes no sense,” he said.
Rubio stated that student loan debt had risen 500 percent over the last decade, often times to pay for a degree that doesn’t lead to employment.
“No one told them that the market for Greek philosophers has tightened,” he said. “I had a student loan. I owed over a hundred thousand dollars in student loans. I never met her, but I paid Sally Mae a lot of money for years.
“We want to make it easier for you to get college credit without having to pay for it,” he continued. “In the 21st century there are so many ways to learn things. If you’ve already learned something because you’ve served in the military, because you’ve learned it on your own, sometimes online, because of work experience, because of life experience, you should get credit for that. Why make you sit in a classroom and pay for three or four credit hours on a subject you’ve already mastered?”
With the S.C. Republican primary fast approaching, Rubio’s visit was aptly timed as the Senator, who is currently polling third in the state, tried to chip away at the voting base of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz before Feb. 20.
“We’re going to grow the conservative movement, win the election and unite this country,” Rubio said in closing. “That’s why I’m asking not just for your vote, but for your activism.”
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.