Rubio kicks off Senate re-election bid in Tampa Bay

On the night Marco Rubio once dreamed of accepting his party's nomination for president under glowing convention lights, he was under the Polk County sun, talking oranges; more specifically, how to save a crop ravaged by citrus greening.

"We are talking about (between) 75,000 and 80,000 jobs directly related to the industry," he said.

Rubio entered the Senate campaign just days before the filing deadline. He hopes to build a get-out-the-vote operation that won't solely depend on how Donald Trump fares.

"The Democrats have worked for a long time since the Obama elections at maintaining a sort of ground operation. I give them credit for that," said Rubio. "We have some ground to make up. I am confident we can."

If he can win the primary against real estate developer Carlos Beruff, he will be on a ticket headed by Donald Trump, who is not only working to unify his own party, but to become more appealing to groups like Hispanics, who gave Trump an 11 percent approval rating in a recent poll.

"We would have to do better not just among Hispanic Americans, but among everyone," Rubio said.

After his appearance in Auburndale, it was off to a Hillsborough County GOP fundraiser and watch party for Donald Trump's acceptance speech.

Several volunteers told us they were no longer lukewarm on Trump.

"I am very motivated," said volunteer Nick Lamura. "After watching the RNC, he really got my vote."

Ironically, a strong Trump campaign, that brings out Republican voters, could help a onetime bitter rival keep his Senate seat.

Rubio's stance on Trump's candidacy, has rubbed off on supporters.

"I may not like everything he is standing for what he has done in the past. It may be a little over the edge," said volunteer Carol Meyer. "But (Trump) is our candidate."

Rubio's campaign schedule is ramping up.

He will be appearing at the Port of Tampa Bay Friday morning for a dedication.