Rubio campaigns with Alexander, Haslam; bashes Trump

Republican presidential aspirant Marco Rubio made an election eve visit to Knoxville Monday, joined by U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and Gov. Bill Haslam at a rally where he criticized both Republican frontrunner Donald Trump and Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

Further from the News Sentinel:

The U.S. senator from Florida presented himself as an alternative to frontrunner Donald Trump — whom he said has spent his life “cheating the little guy” — that can defeat presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“We can’t allow Hillary Clinton to be elected,” he said, drawing a rousing “No” from the crowd of about 1,300 in a hangar at TAC Air Knoxville at McGhee Tyson Airport a day before Tennessee holds its primary as part of Super Tuesday.

…”She lied to families of the victims in Benghazi,” he said, referencing the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Libya in which four Americans were killed, including the U.S. ambassador.

…The crowd greeted Rubio with shouts of “Rocky Top” a couple of times and then yelling out his name as he entered the hanger after his plane touched down at the airport. Former Congressman Zach Wamp, Rubio’s Tennessee chairman, prepped the crowd in advance.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who endorsed Rubio on Sunday, said he would vote for him on Tuesday.

“He’s a conservative who can inspire us,” Alexander said.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said Republicans “only can win if we have the right person” who knows what he wants to do as president. Trump is malleable and indicates he’ll work things out as needed, the former Knoxville mayor said.

“It will be too late,” Haslam said.

Haslam also noted that Rubio had served in state government.

“He understands powers (of government) are to be led by the state,” Haslam said.

Rubio picked up on that theme and said if elected president he will embrace the U.S. Constitution and its amendments, particularly the 10th, which provides “that government has power at the state level, not in Washington.”

Rubio spent much of his talk Monday saying Trump’s candidacy was taking advantage of people’s fears, anger and anxieties and questioned how the New York billionaire could blame “an earpiece” for not understanding questions about white nationalist David Duke’s support. This was a reference to Trump’s explanation Monday on misunderstanding questions on CNN over the weekend about who was supporting him.

“He refuses to criticize the Ku Klux Klan,” Rubio said, asking rhetorically how could someone like that become the Republican standard bearer in November.