Photo by Alexander Willis
BY ALEXANDER WILLIS
United States Senator and 2016 presidential candidate Marco Rubio and U.S. Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn met at the Puffy Muffin bakery in Brentwood Friday for a roundtable discussion. Topics included the country’s progress in the last 19 months, as well as areas deemed to need improvements.
— Alexander Willis (@ReporterWillis) September 15, 2018
Also present at the discussion were members of the organization Latinos for Tennessee, an advocacy group whose core principles are faith, family, freedom and fiscal responsibility.
Sitting in a back room at the restaurant, speakers exchanged pleasantries as sugary pastries were passed around the table.
Blackburn praised Rubio at the beginning of the discussion, calling him a “strong leader in the senate on so many different issues.”
“One of the things I appreciate most about Senator Rubio is that he’s always trying to find a solution to our problems,” Blackburn said. “Whether it is immigration, or spending, or foreign policy, or military, he is someone who brings forward new ideas, and he helps to drive that conversation. I think that that is so vitally important to our country.”
A Cuban American himself, Rubio touched on his upbringing in a Hispanic enclave in South Florida, as well as praised the contributions the Hispanic community has made to the United States.
“One of the things I’ve learned is how American Americans of Hispanic descent are, and how much we have to contributed to this country,” Rubio said. “I think there are three things that have degraded in America that need to be rebuilt; faith, family and unity. All those things matter. I know of no community more deeply rooted in their faith than the Hispanic community across the country.”
Rubio went on to explain how fundamental he believes strong families to be to a functioning and flourishing society.
“Family life in America has degraded, and the reason is both cultural and economic,” Rubio said. “You can’t rebuild a country without strong families. I don’t care how low your taxes are, or how many bridges and roads you build, or how strong your military is, or how much economic growth you have… you can’t be a strong country when the basic atom of society – the family – is eroded. And I know of no community that’s more committed to family than the Hispanic community.”
And lastly, Rubio spoke about the loss of unity in the United States and what people can do to overcome this issue, speaking from first-hand experience living in Florida. Florida was very competitive in the 2016 presidential election, with Donald Trump winning the popular vote by a margin of less than 120,000.
“I coach kids and interact with parents whose politics are very different than mine, but that’s not the only thing I know about them,” Rubio said. “If the only thing you know about someone is their politics, it’s easy to hate them. But if you know them as a parent, as a fellow member of the PTA, as a fellow coach, as a parent, now everything changes… and we’ve lost that. In fact we’ve increasingly separated from one another. If the only thing that we know about one another is who we voted for, that’s not good for the country.”
Former Chairman of Latinos for Tennessee, Tommy Vellejos, spoke positively of Rubio’s performance as senator, thanking him for his support of the U.S. Military. Vellejos was also Tennessee’s first Latino county commissioner in history, and is currently running for the Tennessee house of representatives, representing the 67th District.
“So my values are country, and so she’s answered that call for the military,” Vellojos said. “Also family; Latinos have the lowest abortion rate in America, and so she holds my values of life. I am against abortion, and she holds those values. And then, of course, of god and country. Bring it all together, it’s our Judeo-Christian values that I uphold and she upholds, and she will hold those values in the senate.”
Rubio had strong words of support for Blackburn, while also subtly calling her opponent in the U.S. senate race, Phil Bredesen, the wrong person to send to Washington.
“You have a chance to elect someone with a right background both in their life, and their public service,” Rubio said. “You have a great candidate, you have someone on the other side who’s trying to pull a fast one on you, and you have real progress in this country despite all the rhetoric and the noise. That would all stop if too many of the wrong people got [to Washington], like the individual running as a Democrat here in this state.”
In response to Rubio’s meeting with Blackburn, Bredesen’s press secretary Alyssa Hansen said “Tennesseans are independent thinkers who can make up their own minds and don’t need to be told what to do by out-of-state politicians.”
“Marsha Blackburn’s jaw-dropping hypocrisy is on full display,” Hansen said in a statement. “In stump speeches and in Congress, she goes out of her way to hurt children, families and new arrivals. Then she looks to those same voters for support in November without acknowledging who she really is. Hypocrisy is the only word for it, and voters — Democrats, Independents, and Republicans — can see what she’s doing.”
The midterm elections will commence on November 6 in Tennessee and across the country. Visit the Tennessee voter information page for voting locations and further information.