MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Senator Marco Rubio has done his best to stay neutral during the early stages of the 2012 Republican primary, but he’s generating plenty of buzz and made an early appearance at the Hispanic Leadership Conference.

Rubio has been rumored to be the top pick for either Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich for the position of vice-president. Both candidates believe Rubio could swing Florida into the GOP’s favor and score big with the Latino vote.

Senator John McCain said Friday in central Florida that Mitt Romney would indeed pick Rubio if he was selecting his vice-presidential candidate today.

But, Rubio’s speech was interrupted by protesters Friday who disagreed with his takes on immigration. Rubio didn’t miss a beat and asked that the people be allowed to stay and listen to what he had to say during his speech.

“Let me tell you guys something; these young men and women raise a very legitimate issue,” Rubio said. “They came here to a crowd that they know might not be kind to their point of view on issues. And they had the bravery and the courage to raise their voices. I thank God I’m in a country where I can do that and I want them to hear what I have to say.”

Rubio spent much of his speech discussing immigration, which will be a focal point for Romney or Gingrich should they select him as his vice-president.

“When you look at the electoral college, the Hispanic vote plays a very critical role,” said former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie. “And it’s a swing vote; and it’s important that it swing more back our way during this election.”

Rubio spoke of the main problem in immigration being how to balance and honor “our legacy of immigrants and honors our legacy as a nation of laws.”

Voter Gladys Millan went to the conference just to hear from the candidates and said the GOP still has work to do with the Hispanic community.

“I think they need to work a little bit more,” Millan said. “That’s why I came to this forum.”

For his part, Rubio has repeatedly dodge questions about whether he would serve as a vice-president. He has softened his stance some from saying his main goal was to serve his term to he would do whatever it takes to support the 2012 GOP ticket.

Comments (5)
  1. Boetica says:

    What makes them think that they should be given legal status when they don’t even respect our laws? Why are they better than the people who have gone through the time and expense to get here the right way?

    Yes, we are a nation of laws, and the majority of Americans want the law enforced. JUST DO IT!

    1. Atheist says:

      there are some exceptions that the GOP fails to address. If you were brought here at the age of 2 and lived in America for the past 20 years. Your attending college and you’ve lived your whole life in America but your considered being illegal because of your parents actions 20 years ago. Is it fair to deport the college student who only home was here in america.

      Why not make it easier to get a green cards and have people who come here work while paying taxes. Let them serve in our military to earn citizenship. why is this so hard? OUR COUNTRY WAS FOUNDED UPON AND GREW BECAUSE OF IMMIGRATION. I agree enforce the law but not before fixing it to make it fair for all.

      We are a nation of laws? Who’s gone to jail for the corruption in the private sector that brought our economy down to it’s knees? <— this is more important then immigration at this time.

      1. jorland428 says:

        Almost 30 years ago, President Regan going against his conservative principals, tried to make exceptions because he thought along the same lines. That did not solve the problem then. It only made it worse. You will not get a different result this time by doing the exact same thing.

  2. anna says:

    He has turned his back on a latino child here in jacksonville, fl named Cristian Fernandez. Support Cristian Fernandez on facebook. I will not vote for him again.

  3. Bob says:

    He’s a nice clean-cut man who doesn’t just want to open the floodgates to aliens, but also wants to smooth the path to those who are willing to go through the process.