Politics

In Final Campaign Stop, Rubio Returns to Roots

Miami, Fla. -- After barnstorming across the Sunshine State one more time before Tuesday's election, GOP Senate candidate Marco Rubio fittingly made the last stop of his 2010 campaign in the predominately Cuban American town of Hialeah. For Rubio, who grew up in nearby West Miami, the son of Cuban immigrants, it was a sense of coming home.

"I smell Cuban coffee," Rubio said, smiling as he walked into the small room filled with 'Marco 2010' posters and exuberant Latino volunteers cheerfully yelling his first name.

"Welcome to Hialeah," one of the campaign workers greeted him immediately, embracing the frontrunner in the U.S. Senate race of the 4th largest state.

Throughout the visit, his supporters rattled at him in the lilting Cuban dialect of Spanish, touching and hugging him, some tugging at his white shirt like it was a good luck charm, as broad smiles creased across their brown, black and white faces.

"Te agradesco," he said, shaking hands, and hugging them back, 'I appreciate you.'

As he did throughout his final swing through Florida today, Rubio encouraged the group to go out and vote Tuesday, but for the first time in the day, he didn't say it in English.

Rubio then joked, "Voy a invitar a la prensa a cafe." Translation:" I am going to buy the press some coffee," he said.

His supporters laughed in the direction of the jostling media scrum -- entangled in wires, cameras, and microphones -- that had entered with the Cuban-American candidate.

"It's been humbling experience," Rubio said during a brief press conference of his improbable journey from 35 point underdog to Senate frontrunner. "It has been a very rewarding experience, I am grateful and thank God every night that we had a difficult election early on because it forced us to know what we stood for."

"When you don't have money, and you don't have organization, all you have is your message and your core beliefs, " Rubio added.

A reporter asked how it felt to be on the cover of "Time" magazine.

Rubio said he was unaware that he received the prestigious placement on the publication.

"Is that a jinx? It's not like 'Sports Illustrated,' is it?" Rubio jokingly wondered, referring to the famous sports magazine curse that seemingly afflicts superstar athletes when they appear on the front cover.

This was Rubio's last campaign stop of his 20-month mission to become only the second Hispanic U.S. Senator from Florida despite a population of millions of Latinos. Tuesday of course is Election Day, the final goal, for Rubio, and his quest for the seat that came into play when another Hispanic Republican, Mel Martinez, decided to retire early from the Senate.

Since then Rubio has weathered a tumultuous Republican primary with the sittting Governor of Florida, Charlie Crist.

Win or lose, Rubio will speak to an expected throng of supporters and press Tuesday at his election night event in Coral Gables, FL. Media from all over, including local, national, international, and Spanish-speaking media will descend to cover it. At last staggering count, nearly 300 journalists had requested credentials for his election night event, according to the campaign.

In Hialeah, as the press winded down their questions about Tea Parties, 'Obama Care', and how he'd get along with President Obama's administration, his communications director approached the media pack.

"Last question in English, last question in English," Rubio campaign spokesperson Alex Burgos bellowed out. "Then we go in Spanish."

On cue, the media shuffled places in front of the mics.

"Senor Rubio, como se siente?" a reporter began.

And the candidate, whose father was a bartender and whose mother was a maid, nodded as she continued her question in his family's native tongue.

Fox News' Mike Amor and Brian Young contributed to this report.