Senator Marco Rubio made a trip to Colombia last weekend to attend the Summit of the Americans and was met with an outpouring of attention from Latin American officials and media alike.
The Republican senator from Florida traveled to Cartagena, Colombia, where the summit was held. Roll Call reported Thursday that Rubio went to the summit independently and not as an official representative of the United States at the conference.
Rubio met with the heads of state of Mexico, Guatemala, and Chile, along with members of Colombia’s Congress, Roll Call reported. He also met with Cuban refugees in the country.
He called the meetings an attempt to show that U.S. officials are “prioritizing what’s happening in the region.”
Rubio did interviews with Telemundo, the United States’ Spanish language broadcast channel, as well as Colombian publications like El Tiempo. Many of these interviews were conducted in Spanish and highlighted Rubio’s Cuban roots and marriage to Jeanette Dousdebes, a Colombian-American.
Reporters continued to ask questions about Rubio’s rumored candidacy for vice president in 2012. Rubio responded that he had “no other aspirations” than helping Romney win.
Matt A. Barreto, professor at the University of Washington and an expert on Latino voting behavior, told Roll Call that Rubio’s appearance on the Spanish-language media broadcasts would most likely affect his popularity with Latino voters throughout the country.
Barreto oversaw a poll in January that showed that 60 percent of registered Latino voters either did not know or had no opinion of Rubio. Twenty-five percent of that poll’s respondents said they would be more likely to vote for a presidential ticket that had Rubio on it.
“He definitely has a lot of work to do on his name recognition,” Barreto added.