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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

On eve of swearing in, Rubio given big welcome to Washington



rubioreception.jpg It was a party for the entire Florida delegation but no mistake who everyone was there to see: Marco Rubio.

On the eve of his swearing in as a U.S. Senator, Rubio was surrounded by well-wishers at the Florida House on Tuesday evening. "This is a serious job," he told a TV reporter on the way in, "and I can't wait to get to work."

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson spoke of the tradition of a senior senator from a state escorting the new member onto the chamber floor to be sworn in. "The two senators from Florida have always gotten along so well," Nelson said.

"I look forward to walking down the aisle with you," Rubio said, the crowd bursting with laughter. "The last time I did that, it lasted 12 1/2 years. And counting."

The bipartisan love fest continued when U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch greeted Rubio and then Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz worked her way through the crowd to give him a hug. The two, pictured, have know each other since the Florida Legislature.

Also in attendance were new Reps. Steve Southerland and Allen West and Frederica Wilson and long-serving Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami, whom Rubio interned for in the early 1990s. Rubio paid tribute to her, his wife Jeanette Rubio, and Rebeca Sosa, who encouraged Rubio to seek is first elective office, in West Miami.

Rep. Cliff Stearns made an appearance as did Jeff Miller. Taking it all in was former Rep. Clay Shaw and a bunch of political supporters, including Rubio's older brother Mario Rubio, Bill Bunting and Gaston Cantens.

[Last modified: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 12:42am]


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