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Rubio Asks Idahoans To 'Restart' His Campaign Ahead Of Tuesday's GOP Primary

Tom Banse
Northwest News Network
Florida Senator Marco Rubio addressed supporters and undecided voters at a well-attended rally in a hangar at the Boise Airport. Idaho U.S. Senator Jim Risch, at left, introduced Rubio.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio appealed to Idahoans to revive his presidential hopes during a one-day campaign swing through Idaho Falls and Boise Sunday. Idaho’s Republican presidential primary takes place Tuesday.

About 2,000 people filled a hangar at Boise’s airport to hear Republican Marco Rubio Sunday evening. The loudest cheers came when Rubio said “Idaho has the chance to restart” his campaign across the country.

“I know that this is not a role you have traditionally played in Idaho. But you are going play it on Tuesday,” Rubio said. “You are going to play an important role in the direction of this campaign.”

Rubio said he was invited to appear on the Saturday Night Live TV show.

“But we turned it down because we wanted to make sure we got to Idaho in time,” he said to another loud burst of applause.

Rubio’s two Idaho rallies drew roughly as many people as rival Ted Cruz did Saturday in Coeur d’Alene and Boise. Frontrunner Donald Trump and Ohio Governor John Kasich have not made any campaign appearances in Idaho.

Michigan and Mississippi also hold primaries on Tuesday and Republicans in Hawaii will caucus. The large delegate haul offered by Michigan has proven the strongest candidate lure in the week after Super Tuesday.

There are 32 GOP convention delegates up for grabs in Idaho. The delegates will be allocated proportionately to those candidates who collect at least 20 percent of the vote.

Idaho Democrats are not using the March 8 presidential primary to choose their nominee. They will instead rely on county caucuses on March 22nd to allocate delegates. Washington state Democrats caucus a few days later on Saturday, March 26.

After the back-to-back Idaho rallies, Rubio flew back home. Florida is becoming a “must win” state for Rubio. It holds a winner-take-all primary on March 15.

After stumbling on Super Tuesday, Rubio happily told his Idaho audience about a victory and a sweep of the delegates in Sunday’s presidential primary in Puerto Rico. The bulk of his speech to the rally audience in the chilly airplane hangar in Boise dealt with biographical anecdotes and how they informed his values and policy positions.

On the day of former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s passing, he repeated his aspiration to be an optimistic conservative in the mold of President Ronald Reagan.

“I am the conservative that can unite this party,” Rubio declared.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.