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WASHINGTON—Two lone media cameras greeted Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., when he stepped into a House caucus room one week after suspending his presidential campaign. Corinthian pilasters and high ceilings dwarfed the intimate gathering, and the horde of reporters following him until a week prior was nowhere to be seen. The only vestiges of Rubio’s presidential campaign were his evident fatigue and hoarse voice, as he stepped forward to accept an International Religious Freedom Roundtable award for religious freedom work the one-term Florida senator has done largely out of the limelight.
 
“Today I dedicate this award to all of you and the work that lies ahead,” Rubio said.
 
Much of the audience was composed of IRF Roundtable participants—a diverse coalition that includes Open Doors USA and American Atheists—many of whom fought alongside Rubio to strengthen and reauthorize the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) last year. “We owe our existence to him,” said Robert P. George, chairman of the commission that provides independent recommendations to the president, secretary of state, and Congress.
 
The USCIRF victory allowed the international religious freedom community to put their limited time and resources into other efforts, including the State Department’s recent genocide declaration (see sidebar). Now advocates are turning their attention to a reform bill Rubio wants to help push through Congress during his final months in office.
 
“It’s a priority for us,” Rubio told me in an interview at his Capitol Hill office. “We can’t impose religious liberty, but we have a moral and, quite frankly, a national security obligation to make sure we’re a voice on behalf of it around the world.”
 

 
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