SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) – Marco Rubio is the first of many presidential candidates expected to stop in the Valley for the 2016 election.
He has been taking strong stands on government deregulation and immigration. But, on Friday, his message was on energy.
“For Washington, squandering America’s energy potential is just another day at the office, but for families all across this country, it is deeply personal,” Rubio said to a crowd at Salem’s BOC Water Hydraulics, Inc.
The Florida Senator and Republican presidential candidate said he wants to see a much smaller federal government with less spending.
“We also know that even necessary government regulation can restrict innovation and productivity,” he said.
Just a few miles from the campaign stop, customers and workers at Heggy’s in Salem said there is some government spending they would like to see.
“The water lines,” said Laurie Voytek. “We’ve had quite a few breaks this spring, and it shuts everything down. The roads.”
Infrastructure was also at the top of Donna Wasson’s mind.
“The water lines concern me,” she said. “I grew up in the Youngstown area, and I think it’s a shame, an absolute sin, what has happened to Mill Creek Park.”
She said she is also concerned about where jobs will be located as the economy grows.
“Bringing the jobs back to Ohio or the United States, instead of sending them out of the country. But I am curious to see how they are going to work the wages,” she said.
Rubio said the energy industry is the key to earning America money. He touted the region’s energy production, specifically through hydraulic fracturing in the region.
“This 21st century has the greatest energy potential, this nation has the greatest energy potential, of any nation, in all of human history,” he said.
Rubio also took a jab at Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration for what he called too rigid restrictions on the energy market.
“If we elect Hillary Clinton as president – an outdated leader who believes President Obama’s restrictions haven’t gone far enough, who believes energy policy is more about trying to change the weather than empowering our people – then we will miss out on one of the greatest economic opportunities of this century,” he said. “But if we elect a president who stops telling consumers and innovators to trust Washington, and starts telling Washington to trust consumers and innovators, then the American people will create an energy future that is both prosperous and clean. The cost of living will decrease, American manufacturing will soar, and our strength around the globe will return.”
Rubio mentioned two men in the audience — Jerry James, president of Artex Oil, and Tom Mackall, president of East Fairfield Coal. He said the men have struggled to operate their businesses under the Environmental Protection Agency’s increasing regulations.
Rubio said his energy plan is based on three priorities: “minimizing government bureaucracy, maximizing private innovation and optimizing America’s resources.” He promised to put an end to the Clean Power Plan and to simplify the permitting process for oil and gas pipelines
A Youngstown State University Political Science professor, who commented on Rubio’s stop in the Valley, said Rubio should make it to Ohio’s primary ballot. What happens after that is anyone’s guess, he said.
“That’s the challenge for him or anyone else, because the Republican Governor of Ohio, John Kasich, expects to carry and take all of the delegates to the Cleveland Convention as supporters of his.
The latest polls show Kasich is in seventh place among Republican voters, and Rubio is third. He trails behind Dr. Ben Carson and Donald Trump.