After touring the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop with Rick Harrison, star of the TV show “Pawn Stars,” Rubio told reporters he plans to be back “quite often” as he sought to localize his “New American Century” campaign theme.
“Nevada is a state that in many ways embodies some of the challenges we have in the 21st century,” Rubio said
Rubio is the youngest 2016 candidate, though he’s just half a year younger than fellow presidential contender Texas Senator Ted Cruz, also a freshman lawmaker. But he’s 18 years Jeb Bush’s junior and more than 20 years younger than Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
Harrison said during a Fox and Friends appearance that he isn’t concerned about the first term senator’s age, however.
After chatting with him over lunch in Los Angeles recently, Harrison said he was convinced that Rubio was the best candidate for the job.
‘A governor is a politician, a senator is a politician. What you need is a very strong leader,’ Harrison said. ‘Someone who’s willing to speak his mind and put the right people in charge of things and if they do a bad job, fire them.’
What impressed Harrison most about Rubio was that he didn’t mention ‘the party’ during the meeting.
‘Which was a really big deal to me,’ he said. ‘This guy honestly cares about American people and free enterprise.’
Rubio, he said, truly ‘wants to make it easier to do business. It will bring people out of poverty. It will do things for the economy, so I’m behind him.’
The Democratic National Committee mocked the union of Rubio and the Pawn Stars clan with a series of graphics depicting ‘Mario Rubio’s Pawn Shop.’
‘This is a fitting theme for Mr. Rubio, as his entire campaign is pawning off old, failed GOP ideas as new,’ it said in a blog post.
It hit him for backing ‘the old, rejected GOP policy of ending Medicare as we know it,’ opposing comprehensive immigration reform, ‘marriage equality’ and so-called equal pay for equal work legislation.
‘Dusting off these old ideas and trying to pawn himself off as something new isn’t going to work,’ it said.
Rubio, notably, does support comprehensive immigration reform and was a sponsor of the bipartisan Senate bill formed by a group of lawmakers known as the Gang of 8.
He’s since said that he’d be open to a piecemeal approach that also shuts down a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants if that’s what it takes to get legislation passed – but that’s not his preferred option.
‘I still believe we need to do immigration reform,’ he said earlier this month during a Fox News appearance. ‘The problem is we can’t do it in one big piece of legislation.’
That’s because ‘the votes aren’t there’ in the House of Representatives, he explained.
Harrison’s support could give Rubio a boost in Nevada, a state that is important to both the nomination process and the general election.
He also has the backing of the state’s Lt. Governor Mark Hutchison. Hutchison, the campaign has already announced, will serve as state chair of his campaign there.
But Rubio has other, familial ties to the state, as well, that may help him.
Rubio’s family lived in Las Vegas for a six-year stretch during his formative years before ultimately returning to Florida, the state the U.S. Senator still calls home.
Politics runs in his family’s blood. His cousin, Mo Denis, is a state senator in Nevada.
Though, he and Rubio come from the same family tree, they do not share the same political beliefs. Denis is a staunch Democrat.
When his cousin Marco came to town in 2012 to headline a fundraiser for that year’s GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, Denis parked himself outside and gave a rebuttal speech.
Rubio’s walk down memory lane won’t end with his birthday party today at Harrison’s pad tonight.
He’ll talk to tech startups tomorrow morning at Nevada’s Switch Innevation Center and meet with GOP activists in the afternoon in Reno at the home of Kim Bacchus, a registered lobbyist and the chair of the Washoe County Republican Women’s Club.