Hispanic crowd boos Marco Rubio off stage

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioWisconsinites need infrastructure that is built to last  Republicans struggle to save funding for Trump's border wall Rubio: Dropping FARC from terrorist list threatens Colombians, US security MORE (R-Fla.) took the stage in Orlando at Calle Orange, a Puerto Rican-themed festival, on Sunday when some in the crowd started booing, NPR reported.


The jeering got louder as the Cuban-American senator, seeking reelection after dropping his presidential bid earlier this year, was introduced.

And when the emcee asked for applause as Rubio took the same, boos drowned out any supporters in the crowd, NPR added. 

"Thank you for having me today," Rubio said in Spanish. "I want you to enjoy this day. We're not going to talk about politics today. Thank God for this beautiful day, and for our freedom, our democracy, our vote, and our country. God bless you all, thank you very much."

He left the stage to more boos from the crowd, according to the report.

Olivia Perez-Cubas, a Rubio spokeswoman, downplayed the incident in an email to The Hill.

"This is an annual event that draws thousands of people, including many Democrats. While there were some boos in the crowds, overall the reception Marco received at Calle Orange was very positive."

"In fact, Rubio supporters standing near the stage did not hear any boos while he was speaking. Marco kept his remarks short at the request of the hosts since it was not intended to be a political gathering," Perez-Cubas added. 

Rubio is running against Rep. Patrick Murphy (D), and the latest average of polls in the race shows Rubio ahead by about 3 points. 

Murphy’s campaign seized on the Sunday incident and blasted out video it says shows the booing. It also noted that Murphy attended the festival “with a leader for Puerto Rican communities, Rep. Nydia Velazquez,” while “Marco Rubio was booed off the stage."

Rubio's campaign shared a video with The Hill Monday that it says counters what the Murphy campaign sent out and shows him being greeted enthusiastically as he moves through the crowd. 

Rubio had initially declined to seek reelection in order to run for president, but he dropped out after losing Florida's primary to eventual nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpPence: Supreme Court has chance to right 'historic wrong' with abortion ruling Prosecutor says during trial that actor Jussie Smollett staged 'fake hate crime' Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE. With his seat in danger of becoming a Democratic pick-up, Rubio opted to run for a second term.

Despite the acrimony of the presidential nominating contest, Rubio endorsed Trump.

Festival attendants said they disapproved of Rubio's endorsement of Trump, who is deeply unpopular among Hispanics.

"When we have someone like Trump, who hits our Mexican brothers, our Latino brothers, then you jump on that bandwagon after all that stuff he says not only about you personally ... as a Latino, you're a freaking sellout. I would not vote for him if they paid me," Calle Orange attendant Angel Marin told NPR about Rubio.

"Marco has worked hard on behalf of the Puerto Rican community — from leading efforts to help Puerto Rico out of its financial crisis, to awarding the Borinqueneers with the Congressional Gold Medal, and making student loans more affordable. If re-elected, he will continue to fight for the best interest of Florida's Hispanic community," said Perez-Cubas. 

While Puerto Ricans cannot vote for president as residents of the island, they are U.S. citizens and thus eligible to vote once they set up residency in one of the 50 states.

Puerto Rican voters are expected to play a crucial role in determining the election in Florida, even as some Cuban-Americans — the largest Hispanic group in the state — retain their traditional Republican affiliation.

Despite their own citizenship, Puerto Rican voters have mostly responded negatively to Trump's rhetoric on immigration and immigrants.

“When Donald Trump says Mexicans are rapists, Puerto Ricans understand he means us too,” said Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) recently.

Orlando's Puerto Rican population has spiked over the past decade as people fled the island's crumbling economy. Among all Hispanics in Florida, 27.5 percent are Puerto Rican, according to the Pew Research Center.

Updated 3:29 p.m.