LAS VEGAS -- Donald Trump and Marco Rubio might have shared the city for their events Thursday, but in some ways, they couldn't have been farther apart.
Businessman and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump spoke on Thursday afternoon in front of a packed house at a Las Vegas casino, Treasure Island, on a stage that would be used later for the permanent Cirque du Soleil performance "Mystere." Before the event, a Trump impersonator - complete with the blonde hair, a red tie and suit, mannerisms (even the hand gestures), strolled among the crowd. He even held a press conference as attendees filled the 1,600 seats.
Before launching into his traditional stump speech, Trump weighed in on the big news of the day - that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy had shocked his conference by suddenly withdrawing his name in the race for speaker of the House, throwing Republicans into disarray.
"They're giving me a lot of credit for that because I said you really need somebody very, very tough and very smart," Trump said. "I know tough people. They're not smart, that's the worst, okay. That's the worst. You got to be smart. But, we need smart, we need tough, we need the whole package. And it's a positive."
Twenty miles away from the Las Vegas Strip, Florida Senator Marco Rubio's evening rally in the planned community of Summerlin was more a traditional campaign venue - with approximately 600 in attendance - and hundreds more in an overflow room, compared to Trump's scene at the Strip.
The audience might have been able to read a McCarthy reference into a single comment Rubio made about Congress, but he said nothing explicit. "I ran for the Senate just four years ago to try to change things, and nothing is changing. And it's frustrating. And I know this, if we keep electing the same kind of people, the next person in line, the person they tell us we have to vote for, nothing is going to change," he said.
The speech came just after his campaign announced that he had raised $6 million this quarter, including $1 million in online donations in September alone. Campaign officials conceded the summer had been slow, but after a strong debate performance at the Reagan Presidential Library, they said donations started to stream in.
Rubio's speech centered largely around his family's story - emphasizing his deep Nevada roots. Rubio's father was a bartender here and for a short time, had even converted to Mormonism, which is prevalent in Nevada.
Trump's speech had an odd moment in which he brought a nearly hysterical Hispanic woman on stage to declare loudly into the microphone, "I'm Hispanic, and I vote for Trump!" Trump complained that a recent People Magazine cover showing his family actually placed a wart on his nose. According to Trump, the wart doesn't exist. The woman, Myriam Witcher, who immigrated to the United States from Colombia, happened to have a copy of the magazine cover.
It was just one of many things that set Trump's rally apart. Trump's acknowledgment of Rubio consisted of his mockery of Rubio's parched 2013 State of the Union response, to the delight of the crowd.
Lisa Main, who immigrated to the United States in 1966 from The Netherlands, called Trump "the only hope for America."
"He calls a spade a spade, says it like it is ,and he don't care. Same as I do, love it."
Standing next to her was Main's good friend, Bonnie McDaniel, who has lived in Las Vegas for almost 60 years. She called herself the Clyde of the duo, referring to Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, the famed Great Depression outlaws.
"[The] more unpolitically correct he is, the better we like him," McDaniel said. "I have never been, am not now and never will be politically correct. I don't care what anybody says."
Sean Flignore, a 21-year-old political science major at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas was at the Rubio speech and said he was undecided on whom to vote for, but it was clear it wouldn't be Trump.
"Rubio is the future of the party and Donald Trump is the demise," Flignor. "Look what he says. Think about Mexican-Americans. If he thinks he can win Las Vegas when they're the backbone of the working class of Las Vegas, he's wrong."
The Rubio and Trump speeches shared one similarity - both ended in standing ovations. Trump heads to Georgia this weekend for his next rally - while Rubio remains in Las Vegas through the weekend.