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Marco Rubio Rally at Roanoke College

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Florida Senator and Republican Presidential candidate Marco Rubio made four stops throughout Virginia this weekend, ending the day with a visit to Roanoke College in Salem. Kelsea Pieters reports on this milestone event for the school.

Marco Rubio is the first significant presidential candidate to visit Roanoke College, prompting students of all parties to partake in this historic moment for their school.

Rally-goers began lining up hours early – some came to challenge their current pick, some already confirmed Rubio fans, and some who are…undecided.

“Why are you here Holly?”

“Because my mom’s making me.” (laughter)

“Do you support Marco Rubio?”

“I don’t know.” (laughter)

But, another member of Holly’s group, 23-year-old Deanna, had a better idea of what she was doing there.

“I am interested to see his views and what he’s going to be doing about Isis in particular. I’ve pretty much made up my mind at this point.”

Andrew Williams is a sophomore at Roanoke College. He’s already voted absentee, and not for Rubio – but was interested to hear his message regardless, and to partake in this “first” for the school.

“That’s one of the main messages of Roanoke College is a liberal arts education. We like to be very open-minded.”

Across the street from those awaiting entry to see Rubio was a group of student protesters – among them, junior Mackay Pierce:

“The group of people you see before you is a collection of members of a bunch of different student organizations on campus. What we’re out here protesting is how Senator Rubio’s stances on a number of issues are very weak and would have a negative impact on millions of people.”

Sophomore Haley Ryan was also with the student protesters, she said she was proud of their turnout.

“A lot of people like to say that millennials are apathetic and we all get participation trophies. And I think something like this is the exact opposite – we all care very much about this, so we came out to show it.”

And when Rubio finally took the stage in Roanoke College’s gym, he revealed a new item on his agenda.

“On my first day in office, I’m going to get this school a federal grant for air conditioning for the gym. I’m against spending, but I’ll make an exception, because this is hot in here…”

There were about 2,600 people in there after all. 

Kelsea Pieters has worked as a reporter and producer for WVTF since March 2014. She regularly contributes feature and news stories and produces Back to the Blue Ridge with Kinney Rorrer. Kelsea graduated from Roanoke College in 2013 with a BA in Communication.
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