Marco Rubio tackles Trump, birthright citizenship and Cuban fritas at Iowa State Fair

He posed for cameras and played football with Iowa children.

But while Marco Rubio made viral headlines for accidentally bopping a kid on the head with a football during his visit to the Hawkeye state, he also tackled serious issues. Later in the day at the Iowa State fair – a mandatory stop for White House aspirants – the Florida senator and son of Cuban exiles said he rejects the repeal of birthright citizenship.

“I am open to doing things that prevent people who deliberately come to the U.S. for purposes of taking advantage of the 14th amendment but I’m not in favor of repealing it,” Rubio told journalists at the fair on Tuesday.

Republican front runner Donald Trump detonated a political bomb this week when he presented his hardline plan on illegal immigration. The contentious proposal, red meat to conservative voters in states like Iowa, threw the GOP field into a tailspin.

Birthright citizenship is the constitutional provision that grants citizenship to anyone‎ in the United States, including children of undocumented immigrants.

Trump’s proposal would also cut off federal funding to U.S. cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities and impound "all remittance payments derived from illegal wages." His primary rivals reacted from partial support, to outright derision. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who was in South Carolina on Tuesday, said an immigration plan needs to be "grounded in reality."   

Rubio suggested Trump’s plan was impractical and impossible to enforce.

"We will have to realistically deal with the fact that we have 12 or 13 million people in this country illegally," Rubio said as journalists followed him through the fairgrounds. "Most of whom have been here for longer than a decade and think Americans understand we are going to have to deal with that.”

"If they are criminals, they can't stay‎," Rubio said.
Rubio arrived in Iowa Monday with his family in tow. He rode the bumper cars and ate funnel cake and ran into Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican.

When Fox News reporter Griff Jenkins asked Branstad if Rubio was "a guy he could support," the powerful governor, who is not planning on supporting a GOP candidate before the February 1 Iowa caucuses, replied emphatically.

"Oh, absolutely," Branstad said. "I could support him and I'm really impressed. I think he is definitely a rising star in The Republican ranks and we're really proud of his record."

Rubio looked away, almost bashfully.

Later Rubio donned a red apron to flip pork burgers at the Iowa Pork Producers tent as his two teenage daughters looked on.

"We do this every Sunday . Or, we try to‎," he said as he smiled and turned over the patties. "The key is to only flip them once. ‎"‎

‎Later he described how the Cuban version of the hamburger is called a "frita."

"It is basically chorizo pork, grounded into like a spicy mix but not as thick as this," he said as he eyed the grill. "It is a lot thinner‎."

Serafin Gomez is a White House Producer for FOX News Channel, who also covered the 2016 election as a Special Events & Politics producer and former special campaign correspondent for Fox News Latino. Fin formerly worked as the Miami Bureau Producer for Fox News Channel where he covered Florida Politics & Latin America. Follow him on Twitter: @Finnygo