Marco Rubio grabs some Vegas pizazz for campaign

May 28, 2015, 7:24 PM

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Tourists and shoppers idled outside the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop on Thursday, while the setting of the reality show “Pawn Stars” hosted an even odder spectacle: the 2016 Republican presidential campaign.

Inside, Rick Harrison, the bullet-headed star of the History Channel show, led Florida Sen, Marco Rubio to a small scrum of reporters and television cameras crammed into the back of the shop, where the Picassos and Chagalls hang.

“This is a great guy right here,” Harrison said of Rubio. “I’m good at reading people — you’ve seen my show — and this guy honestly cares about people.”

Campaigning in Las Vegas can verge on the surreal, and Rubio’s quick swing through town to celebrate his 44th birthday met that criteria. In the pawn shop — sandwiched between two bail bond outlets on a gritty stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard — Rubio admired a Super Bowl ring as he ambled through the narrow space, past gold records, Elvis posters and display cases full of knives and fancy jewelry.

Rubio tied the success of “Pawn Stars” into his campaign theme. “In almost any other country in the world, this story would have been impossible — both mine and his,” Rubio, a son of Cuban immigrants who once worked in a Las Vegas casino, said as he stood with Harrison.

Hours later, Rubio celebrated his birthday at a private party at Harrison’s five-bedroom, 4,600-square-foot home in a comfortable neighborhood at the northwestern edge of Las Vegas’ sprawl. Attendees were asked to donate at least $1,000 to Rubio’s campaign.

Because this is a presidential campaign, there was partisan counterprogramming. Democrats tried to get in on the pop-culture game by circulating online memes claiming Rubio is trying to “pawn off” old Republican ideas.

Three high school students stood outside Rubio’s fundraiser, hoping to talk to the candidate, who has been targeted by immigration activists for his changing stances on the issue. But when Rubio emerged from an SUV, all the teenagers did was shout, “Happy Birthday, Marco Rubio!” He waved back.

Rubio spent six years of his childhood in Las Vegas, and Nevada is both a pivotal early-voting state in the competitive GOP primary and a critical swing state in the general election. The Florida senator has a more sober schedule Friday: a tech start-up round-table in Las Vegas followed by a meeting with conservative activists in Reno.

Rubio said he’d be spending plenty of time in Nevada in the coming months, and was open about the main reason he was there Thursday.

“We’re going to do what we’ve been doing, and we’ll probably do for the next year — raise money,” Rubio told reporters at the pawn shop. “All these people you work for charge us money to run commercials.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


(AP Photos)...

Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva is 1st congressional endorsement for Bernie Sanders

Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva is set to become the first congressional endorsement for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a Tucson rally Friday.
7 years ago
Twitter Photo/@dtvalenzuelaphx...

Unofficial results: Daniel Valenzuela re-elected in District 5

Incumbent Councilman Daniel Valenzuela dominated in the District 5 race for re-election, as of 8:00 p.m.
7 years ago
(Facebook Photo)...

Unofficial results: Proposition 104 wins at the polls

Hot topic Proposition 104 appeared to pass at the polls as of 8:00 p.m.
7 years ago
(AP Photo)...

Unofficial results: Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton wins second term

Current Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton leads the polls with 66.3 percent of the votes for mayor as of 8:00 p.m.
7 years ago
Associated Press

Trump’s lawyer apologizes after mistaken claim about rape

An attorney for Republican presidential contender Donald Trump apologized Tuesday for making the incorrect assertion that "by the very definition, you can't rape your spouse."
7 years ago
n Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a campaign stop, Tuesday, ...
Associated Press

Quiet on Keystone, Clinton faces sharper attacks from rivals

Hillary Rodham Clinton dodged questions Tuesday about her positions on trade and the Keystone XL pipeline, telling a New Hampshire voter that if the future of the project opposed by environmentalists remains "undecided when I become president, I will answer your question."
7 years ago

Sponsored Articles

Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
Marco Rubio grabs some Vegas pizazz for campaign