Dallas

In Dallas, Rubio ramps up attack on Trump, calling him a ‘con artist’

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. speaks a rally Friday in Dallas
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. speaks a rally Friday in Dallas AP

Calling Donald Trump “a con artist,” Marco Rubio continued his verbal attacks on the New York billionaire during a Friday morning rally in Dallas.

With a vocal crowd cheering along, Rubio accused Trump of having a meltdown at Thursday night’s debate in Houston.

At one point, Rubio even read Trump's tweets mocking the misspelling of some words.

“Just like Trump Tower, he must have hired a foreign worker to do his tweets,” Rubio said to a roaring crowd .

During Thursday’s debate, Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, both went after Trump on a variety of topics, including immigration and Trump’s unwillingness to share his tax returns.

Rubio also chided Trump for his lifestyle, saying if he “hadn’t inherited $200 million, you know where Donald Trump would be right now? Selling watches in Manhattan.”

Speaking Friday at Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, Rubio vowed to defend the 2nd Amendment, repeal Obamacare and rebuild the military.

“We are going to unite the conservative movement and we are going to grow it,” Rubio said.

Rubio also told the crowd that Super Tuesday is a referendum on the conservative movement, warning Trump is “not a true conservative. It's time to pull his mask off so people can see what we're dealing with.”

Rubio vowed not to use Trump's rhetoric, saying “I will never ask you to hate one group of Americans.”

While the crowd was smaller than the Trump rally in Fort Worth, those attending were somewhat optimistic about their candidate.

‘I hope it isn’t too late’

Laura Fabick has been a fan of Marco Rubio since she saw him speak in Florida several years ago.

“I liked what he had to say,” said Fabick, a Dallas resident who was among thousands attending a Rubio rally at Klyde Warren Park in Dallas Friday morning. “I agreed with him on most of the issues.”

Fabick is hoping Rubio's aggressive attacks in Thursday night's debate will help him surge past Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

“I hope it isn't too late,” Fabick said. “I hope he can still turn the tide.”

She was accompanied by her husband, Jack, a Trump supporter.

He didn't rule out becoming a Rubio supporter but said he'll likely stick with Trump.

“I just think he gives us the best chance to win,” Jack Fabick said. “But I think any of them — Cruz, Rubio — can beat Sanders or Clinton. I think it's a weak field for the Democrats.”

‘He has very clear ideas’

Many stood outside the barricades to get a closer look.

“I'm just coming to hear what he has to say,” said Mike Flores of Dallas. “I haven't made up my mind but I like what I've heard so far. He's not as crazy as Trump.”

Julie McKee first Googled Rubio four years ago after Mitt Romney lost to Barack Obama.

Her support has only intensified during his campaign.

“I think he has very clear ideas,” McKee said. “On how to deal with ISIS, on how to deal with the economy.”

But McKee said she was most proud of Rubio's stance on immigration.

“He deals with it in a humane way not by throwing them all out of the country,” McKee said.

When asked if Rubio still has a chance to defeat Trump, McKee replied: “I pray he does.”

‘Texas is still Cruz country’

With polls showing Rubio trailing both Trump and Cruz in Tuesday’s Texas GOP primary, Rubio continues to make the argument that he is best candidate to derail Trump.

In recent days, Rubio has picked up the support of Susan Combs, former Texas Comptroller and Agriculture Commissioner along with former state Senators Florence Shapiro, John Carona and Bob Deuell.

Much is on the line for his campaign heading into Super Tuesday, when Texans make their presidential picks.

Rubio’s hope is that he picks up new support once Jeb Bush ended his own presidential bid.

Texas is the crown jewel in the Super Tuesday election, offering 155 Republican delegates alone.

A poll released Wednesday by the Star-Telegram’s media partner, WFAA, showed Cruz and Trump tied at 32 percent statewide, while Rubio trailed with 17 percent.

After his speech, one unnamed supporter expressed satisfaction with Rubio's appearance but warned: “Texas is still Cruz country. I don't know how he'll do on Tuesday.”

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @fwhanna

Candidate information

To learn more about candidates on the March 1 ballot, check out the online Star-Telegram Voters Guide.

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