After posing for photographs with top supporters for more than an hour, Marco Rubio strolled quietly into a ballroom at the Miami Airport Hilton Saturday night, found his place at the honored guests’ table at the front of the room and prepared to address the home crowd that so enthusiastically got him elected to the U.S. Senate.
It was a subdued entrance for a man heralded as a rock star last year when he swept into office as the fresh face of the Republican wave that overtook Washington in November — a status that made pop culture Friday night when Rubio was mentioned on the gameshow Jeopardy!
“Elected senator from Florida,” host Alex Trebek intoned, “this son of Cuban exiles has been called a rising conservative political star.”
“Who is Rubio?” the contestant quickly replied to the answer in the midterms category, which carried a $2,000 payoff. “Mar-co Ruuubio, right you are,” Trebek said, attempting a Spanish accent.
But in Washington, the rising star has shunned the national spotlight and Sunday talk shows in an orchestrated effort to show he’s focused on Florida. He maintained that approach Saturday at the Miami-Dade Republican Party’s Lincoln Day dinner, a fundraiser expected to net the GOP some $80,000 that featured Rubio as its keynote speaker.