Marco Rubio was heckled by protesters demanding the Republican presidential candidate protect the immigration policies started during the Obama administration. Although it was hardly expected, Rubio managed to score big points with his audience with his responses. Afterwards, the next speaker, Rand Paul, was left asking for protesters of his own.
According to the Huffington Post, the protesters heckled “Implement DAPA! Protect DACA!” in the middle of Rubio’s speech for the conservative Faith & Freedom conference in Washington D.C. on Thursday.
DAPA referred to “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans” and DACA is “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” Both are programs implemented by President Obama to give temporary relief to child immigrants and their parents.
Marco Rubio has had a complicated stance on immigration, supporting immigration reform but distancing himself from a path to citizenship and advocating for more border security. Still, the xenator wasn’t there to debate the matter with hecklers.
The Guardian reports that the two men, reportedly two undocumented immigrants, shouted, “Why do you keep supporting the deportation of families?”
Rubio countered saying, “If you do that in another country, you’d be in jail tonight.”
“In the United States you can speak freely. They have a right to be rude and they have a right to be wrong. We live in a free society.”
After Marco Rubio’s comeback, the audience cheered and drowned out the protesters.
Politico reports that until that point, the junior senator from Florida had mostly stuck to the speech he prepared for the gathering of social conservatives, but his reactions to being heckled gave him his best applause.
Nevertheless, Marco Rubio, along with Jeb Bush, is one of the more moderate Republican candidates on immigration policies. Rubio, who is the son of immigrants from Cuba, said on Univision in April that he thought Obama’s DACA program was “important.”
He added that although the DACA would have to end eventually, Rubio wouldn’t “immediately” dismantle the program.
As for DAPA, the senator did say he would “cancel” the program without specifying a timeline. DAPA was an addition to DACA that prevented parents of undocumented children who have been in America for at least five years from being deported.
Both programs are currently on hold and being challenged in the court.
After Marco Rubio’s applause-winning responses, fellow speaker Senator Rand Paul joked that he was the one who should have been heckled since he was supposed to speak first.
“I feel kind of shortchanged. Are there any protesters left? If there’s anybody left, we can start with the protest.”
Marco Rubio proved he can handle being heckled, another positive step in his presidential campaign.
[Image Credit: Getty Images]