RICHMOND - U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio on Monday cast the Virginia governor’s race as not only a fight between Republican Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II and Democrat Terry McAuliffe, but as a battle for the idea of American exceptionalism in an uncertain world.
Mr. Rubio, a Florida Republican and possible 2016 GOP presidential contender, headlined a fundraiser at the downtown Richmond Marriott to lend Mr. Cuccinelli some high-profile help as he tries to keep pace with Mr. McAuliffe over the last seven weeks of the race.
Mr. Rubio said the election is not just about beating a Democrat and winning a governor’s seat, noting that the media often paints campaigns in a superficial, “horse race” light.
“But in politics, it has real consequences in the lives of real people,” he said. “And I cannot imagine a time in my lifetime where the consequences have been higher.”
He said that such an election will reverberate even beyond America’s borders.
“I would ask you to envision a world without an exceptional America,” he told the crowd, saying that if America declines, nothing — not the United Nations, not China, and not “Putin’s Russia” — can replace it.
The Democrats, he said, are pouring money into the race from all over the country to try to convince Americans that the government is the cure to all that ails the U.S.
“For them, it’s about convincing America that government is the solution to all of our problems,” he said. “You pick a problem, they’ve got a government program to solve it. You pick an issue; they’ve got a tax they claim will make it better.”
“This is a precursor for what’s going to happen in 2014 and, after that, in 2016,” he continued, alluding to the midterm elections and the next presidential election cycle. “There’s still going to be an America after Barack Obama, by the way. There’s going to be a lot of [messes] to clean up. A lot of dreams to be restored. An entire economy to be reinvigorated. But we can’t wait until 2016 to start the work. We’ve got to start now, we’ve got to start in Virginia, we’ve got to start with Ken Cuccinelli, and I encourage you to do everything you can to make that happen.”
Mr. Rubio spent much of his time telling his own personal story as the son of Cuban immigrants who were able to make better lives for themselves in America.
“That’s what’s at stake today in American politics, and that’s what’s at stake in this race in Virginia,” he said.
“He is one of the leaders of our party across the country, and it is an honor to have him here in the capital of Virginia in Richmond,” Mr. Cuccinelli said. Mr. Rubio “has a unique ability to communicate conservative principles and tie in his personal story and his family’s story. And it is inspiring to hear.”
Mr. Cuccinelli also asked the crowd for a moment of silence in light of the ongoing situation involving the shootings at the Navy Yard in the District.
Recent polls have showed Mr. McAuliffe with a modest lead in the race, but on Monday Mr. Cuccinelli won the endorsement of TechPAC, the political arm of the Northern Virginia Technology Council. The endorsement was scheduled to be announced Friday, but The Washington Post reported that it was delayed after Mr. McAuliffe’s campaign, among others, lobbied for the board to change its decision.