Florida Senator Marco Rubio spoke to Republicans in Anderson Monday night as he considers a run for president in 2016. But the appearance at the Faith and Freedom BBQ didn’t go quite as planned.
Several protestors at the Anderson Civic Center interrupted Rubio several times during his speech before being escorted out by security guards. Many of the more than 1,000 people in attendance booed the group, who were heckling the senator for dropping his previous support of an immigration reform package.
Rubio, whose own parents legally emigrated from Cuba in 1956, said he sympathized with the protestors. “Every single year one million human beings immigrate legally to the United States of America,” he said, according to FOX Carolina. “There is no other country that does that. This is a sovereign country that deserves to have immigration laws.”
CNN’s Peter Hemby reports the heckling may have actually benefitted Rubio in front of the conservative audience. The senator had lost some of his popularity among Republicans who saw his support for an immigration reform package as amnesty. Rubio helped craft the bipartisan immigration bill that passed in the Senate but stalled in the House as Republican leaders blocked it.
Rubio was the keynote speaker at the fourth annual Faith & Freedom BBQ, which was hosted by South Carolina Congressman Jeff Duncan. Other Republicans who spoke at the event included Gov. Nikki Haley and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham.