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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Sen. Marco Rubio: Libyans 'really hopeful about their future'



Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, fresh from a visit to Libya to meet with former rebels who ended the rule of Moammar Gadhafi, said he was touched by thankfulness and hope he heard from Libyans on the street.

"These people are very, very proud of their revolution, and very excited about what it means for their future," he said in a conference call from Malta.

Rubio and a small group of lawmakers including Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Mark Kirk visited the damaged former U.S. Embassy, met with transitional leaders and toured a prison and a medical center.

"People were grateful, people were thankful, people were excited we were there," he said.

He described pro-American graffiti and Libyans flashing "victory" signs at the motorcade. 

"You could tell it was genuine. People wanted to talk to you," he said. "... I'm talking like, guys on the corner, young people at the cafe."

There's still work to do, he said. Pro-Gadhafi forces still hold two major cities, and Gadhafi himself is at large. Meanwhile, Libyans face an immediate need for medical care that the United States should help to meet, he said.

Rubio has strongly supported intervention in the country.

"I shared with the rebels that their story is an inspiration to those who seek freedom all over the world," he said. 

[Last modified: Thursday, September 29, 2011 5:38pm]


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