DENVER – A fiery Marco Rubio did his part to connect Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's campaign message of economic recovery to a riled up crowd of hundreds here ahead of Wednesday night's presidential debate.
"Get involved, it makes a difference. We're counting on you," Rubio said before a couple hundred supporters. "I think you know by now this is a pretty important state."
A popular Florida senator and top Romney surrogate who introduced the candidate during last month's Republican National Convention, Rubio connected his working-class background with the economic struggles facing many frustrated voters currently. He also poked fun at a gaffe made Tuesday by Vice President Joe Biden.
"The last four years the middle class has been buried," Rubio said. "Those weren't my words, those are the words of the Vice President of the United States Joe Biden."
When the crowd booed at Biden's name, Rubio quipped, "No, don't boo, he's the best thing we've got going."
Countering the portrait of Romney Democrats have tried to paint of an unfeeling plutocrat, Rubio attacked the Obama administration for failing to help struggling Americans.
"Big government doesn't help the middle class, it buries it," he said. "If we lose the American middle class, we become just like everybody else."
Obama doesn't pay attention to job creation, Rubio charged.
"All they need is a couple of professors to say what a great idea this is and they go with it," he said.
Whipping through policy points where Romney differs from Obama, on taxes, government regulations and energy, Rubio closed his remarks on a hopeful note.
"While our government is screwed up, there's nothing wrong with our people," he said. "All we need is a government that makes it easier for us to get ahead."
The event was aimed at rallying Colorado's ever-growing Hispanic population to the Romney-Ryan ticket—though a new poll shows the GOP's efforts this election cycle are falling historically short.
Obama leads Romney by 50 percentage points, according to a poll released Wednesday – 71 percent to 21 percent.
Pollsters for the NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo survey say the "47 percent" remarks Romney made at a Florida fundraiser have likely hurt the candidate with Hispanics.
But for Jeff Rodriguez, a former building contractor who now works at a golf course and volunteers with the Colorado Hispanic Republicans, this election is all about Obama's broken promises.
"He promised that he would do it and he didn't," he says. "He promised that he was going to cut the deficit in half, he didn't do it. He had all these issues, and he had Congress—both the House and the Senate—and it was all Democrats and he did nothing."
Rubio, who is of Cuban descent, never mentioned immigration reform in his stump speech, however. Romney tacked far to the right of his GOP opponents during the primary campaign earlier this year and has struggled in large part to reassure Latinos he would work towards a bipartisan solution to the issue.
Rodriguez says that's just not his top concern right now.
"His beliefs and values line up with mine," he says. "He's a businessman as well and business runs the country and if we ran it like a business I think we'd be a lot better off."
Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter.