From Columbia to North Charleston, Rubio chose to hold camp of all places, a high school. Not that a high school was all that unusual as candidates are seeming to take any space available to get their messages heard, but a high school felt so Junior Varsity; especially, since Trump had secured the enormous convention center 13 miles down the road.
Editor’s note: This is an in-depth series of Meyer’s accounts as a military spouse and veteran hitting the Presidential Campaign Trail in South Carolina. Read from the beginning or discover her experiences with Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or skip to her final thoughts.
In retrospect, the state’s capital offers many large venues to choose from and this didn’t feel very presidential, especially considering his special guests.
The camp took over the gymnasium where senator Tim Scott proudly announced he once attended “as a failing student,” as he introduced the candidate. Scott passionately pledged his unwavering support to Marco Rubio.
The gym was adorned with a giant American flag and MarcoRubio.com posters flanking it. The line outside wrapped around the building, despite the droves of students who were being let out at the day’s last bell.
It was a sold-out event, though tickets are always free. The campaign elected to bring in a small amount of black folding chairs and forgo the school’s bleachers as a seating option, leaving only standing room for most people attending.
Would the bleachers have limited the media’s ability to film? I didn’t think so, but I couldn’t believe the candidate didn’t utilize the space more efficiently.
With my Marco Rubio press pass in hand, I was once again allowed to enter the event before the general public. Three giddy young women from Vanderbilt University’s Young Republicans who had volunteered to help at the event, awaited the arrival of their newest candidate-crush. They even asked me advice as to where to sit for the best view of Marco saying, “I looked like someone who had been at many events and knew.” Confidence builder!
Eventually, Rubio took the stage after receiving support from both South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Senator Tim Scott. There was an excitement in the air of the gym as each person baited the crowd with an alleged special guest — someone more special than Rubio? Who?
Rubio’s message was strong and poignant at times, as he reflected back on his childhood and his parents. He was direct and polished, yet somewhat rehearsed, as Chris Christie had so punishingly highlighted at his last debate with Rubio before resigning his own campaign after a poor showing in New Hampshire. Marco’s message about rebuilding and modernizing our ailing military definitely resonated strongly with me as a military spouse.
With operations at a stall in aviation communities, the fiancé of a lance corporal, lamented on how, “many in her fiancé’s shop, including her husband-to-be, work close to 90 hours a week trying to just keep jets in the air… with a squadron that currently only has between one and 12 jets in the air at any given time.”
With no military experience on his presidential resume, one has to question if Rubio truly understands how ailing our military men, women and machines are today — especially after 15 years of war. He would have done a better job convincing me and others if he were a veteran. Time was ticking on his campaign here in South Carolina and the primary was just a couple of days away.
Special guest, Sean Hannity did in fact, show up at the end of the speech. He went live to Fox News to report on Rubio from the Campaign Trail. Interestingly, watching this all unfold as “live” made me wonder how much Sean and Marco talked before the event. Did Marco know what Hannity would be asking? I’d be foolish to think that there wasn’t some sort of meet and greet, but to what extent, I’ll never know. I wish I could have spent more time at the live event, but I had to get across town for my last reporting venture of the evening.
I was hopeful to make it to Trump’s rally once again, this time, hopefully without armed guards.
This is an in-depth series of Meyer’s accounts as a military spouse and veteran hitting the Presidential Campaign Trail in South Carolina. Read from the beginning or learn about her experiences with Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or skip to her final thoughts.
About the Author: Rebecca Meyer, a veteran of the California National Guard, married to an active duty Marine Corps pilot, works part-time for GBX delivering curriculum to separating/retiring service members on behalf of the Department of Labor, writes a veteran’s blog with ACI Benefits, and most importantly is mother to a brilliant, sweet, tree-climbing, bike riding 4-year-old.
She grew up discussing politics around the dinner table and listening to talk radio on AM several nights as a family. She stepped into politics in the 8th grade after giving an award winning (Rotary Award) speech, firmly announcing that she would be the first woman president of the United States. She has fond memories of dancing around the room with her grandparents when Bush Jr. won the election in 2000. She remains an active part of the spouse community in Beaufort, South Carolina.