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Monday, Sep 01, 2014

Rubio can't avoid politics during crowded Tampa book signing

Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 07:30 PM

Sitting outside Inkwood Books on Sunday night, Marco Rubio's tour bus hummed, the engine running at a constant idle.

There was a different kind of energy spilling out of the bookstore, and the adjacent alley, as a crowd of about 400 waited to meet the Republican senator from Florida and get him to sign his memoir, "An American Son."

"Been a Marco Rubio fan, worked real hard to get him in the Senate two years ago, hoping he stays in the Senate," said Nikki Picking, a member of Marco's "Pinellas Posse."

The Clearwater woman was first in line Sunday.

The event at Inkwood Books, 216 S. Armenia Ave., was the third of the day for Rubio, who will continue on to Orlando, The Villages and Jacksonville today. They had turned out in droves in Naples more than 1,000 strong, according to the Naples Daily News.

The book, released June 19 in English and Spanish, isn't about politics, Rubio said.

"The book is really a tribute to the American dream," he said, taking a break from signing. "I do it through the experience of my mother, my father and my grandfather and the struggles and sacrifices they went through."

The book touches on how his parents, Mario and Oria Rubio, left Cuba in 1956 after Fidel Castro took over the island nation, as well as Rubio's ascent through the political ranks.

Although the night was about his book and family, Rubio didn't shy away from politics, when asked.

He said he's onboard with a "repeal and replace" plan when it comes to the Affordable Health Care for America Act, upheld last week by the U.S. Supreme Court. He said the health care law will add to the deficit and diminish the quality of U.S. health care.

Rubio turned his ire on politicking, saying Washington is rife with pairing good ideas with bad ideas — no matter who is in charge — and then presenting them as one bill. He'd prefer breaking them apart and voting on individual issues.

During the book signing, Rubio was peppered with advice. Some urged him to stay in the Senate, while others said he should aim higher.

"I can't wait to call you President Rubio," one woman said, gushing.

Grinning, with a black Sharpie in his right hand, Rubio responded, "I don't know about that."

Then Rubio tackled the ongoing mystery of whether he would be the vice presidential running mate of presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

"I made a decision a couple months ago not to talk about it anymore, but I can tell you one thing for certain, and that is, Gov. Romney, his entire life has made good decisions and he'll make a great decision again in regard to who he picks," Rubio said. "I'm confident of that."

edaniels@tampatrib.com (813) 371-1860 Twitter: @EddieDTampaTrib

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