Press Releases

Marco Rubio bolsters 2024 profile with sympathetic approach to racial 'inequities'
By David Drucker
Washington Examiner
June 25, 2020
 
In 2016, Florida voters in a predominantly black Jacksonville precinct rewarded Sen. Marco Rubio for championing their concerns about a mismanaged public housing project by supporting the Republican for reelection by a healthy 4 percentage points.
 
“Not only was his mind in it — but his heart was also in it,” said Pastor Mark Griffin, who worked with Rubio to improve living conditions at the Valencia Way apartment complex situated near his Wayman Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church in Jacksonville. “The election results were that people can always tell when an elected official is genuine — and that’s what people saw in Sen. Rubio.”

 
Over the years, Rubio’s attentiveness to black and Hispanic priorities has generated praise from the Democrats who have collaborated with him. In interviews, they describe the senator as authentically interested and action-oriented — even as they acknowledge ideological differences. Four years ago, Rubio's approach also produced results at the ballot box that propelled him to a second Senate term after his presidential campaign flamed out.
 
The senator received 17% of the black vote in that contest, 9 points better than President Trump, who is hoping to achieve Rubio-levels of black support this November.
Rep. Frederica Wilson, a black Florida Democrat, has been friends with Rubio since each served in Tallahassee and cooperated on the “5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project,” a mentoring program for young black men in Miami that she founded and that he is still involved in.
 
“He very early on let me know by his actions with the 5,000 [role models program] how sensitive he was to issues in the inner city as it relates to poor people of color — poor black people, and how they needed a hand up and how they needed to be given some kind of hope,” Wilson said. “This isn’t something he just came up with since he’s been in Congress.”

 
The [Scott police reform] legislation includes a Rubio proposal to create the “Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys" — a federal version of a program he worked on in Florida to study racial disparities affecting black males and develop ways to assist them. Other items in the package are co-sponsored by Rubio, among them measures to deter lynching and form a national commission on criminal justice.

 
“The nation that was founded by very imperfect people, but whose founding principles are so powerful that if you look at every great cause in American history — the end of slavery, the Civil Rights movement, the right to vote, women’s suffrage — all of these great advances were an appeal to our founding principles,” [Rubio] said. “They were not a demand that we overthrow our founding principles.”