- The Washington Times - Monday, February 29, 2016

ATLANTA — Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio lost his voice Monday and brought in South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to help lead a rally and make his closing argument a day before Super Tuesday.

“When you work hard and you fight hard these things happen. When these things happen, you call your friends,” Mrs. Haley told a crowd of about 1,000 supporters at the Intercontinental Buckhead Atlanta hotel.

She said that Mr. Rubio losing his voice from campaign hard for votes ahead of Super Tuesday demonstrate that he would be a strong leader.

“If you really want to know what kind of leader you are going to get, you can always tell by how hard they work in their campaign,” Mrs. Haley said.

Mr. Rubio has been barnstorming Georgia and many of the 10 other states voting Tuesday, where he needs a strong showing to try to stay competitive and blunt front-runner Donald Trump’s momentum.

Later at the rally, Mr. Rubio managed to address the crowd, speaking with a hoarse voice.

“I got my voice back a little bit,” he told the crowd, which erupted with cheers and applause.

Mr. Rubio made a last-ditch appeal for support, warning that Mr. Trump was conning Republican voters and that giving him the nomination would all but guarantee Hillary Clinton is the next president.

“I don’t say this with any glee, but a vote for Donald Trump tomorrow is a vote for Hillary Clinton in November,” he said.

He said that Mr. Trump doesn’t live up to his rhetoric, including having his clothing line made in China, using illegal immigrant labor to build a hotel and leaving subcontractors in the lurch with repeated bankruptcy filings.

Mr. Rubio said that if Mr. Trump wins the GOP nomination “the Democrats the press will decent on him like the hounds of hell and they will rip him apart.”

The crowd responded enthusiastically to Mrs. Haley and Mr. Rubio. And yet, their fervor was dampened by the daunting task confronting their candidate, who trails in Georgia and every other Super Tuesday state.

In most contests, he is batting Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for second place more than vying for a win over Mr. Trump.

“I just keep hoping,” said Rubio supporter Jenna Tagliaferri, 49. “I hope he doesn’t give up and Cruz will drop out first.”

Rubio supporters said they were counting on heavy turnout by more moderate Republicans in the Atlanta metro area to rescue their candidate in Georgia, where he placed third with Georgia GOP voters at 22 percent behind Mr. Trump at 40 percent and Mr. Cruz at 29 percent in a recent CBS News/YouGov poll.

“Georgia is very much two states. You’ve got metro Atlanta and the other one,” said Mike Weir, 42, an IT supporter and Rubio fan in Atlanta. “It’s all about which Georgia shows up.”

However, many Rubio supporters find themselves waiting for Mr. Trump’s fans to suddenly turn on the billionaire real estate mogul.

“I’m just hoping and praying the Trump supporters will see the light and realize their candidate is a bombastic baboon,” said Rubio supporter Mark Johnson, 58, of Dublin, Ga.

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