LITTLE ROCK — In a rally Sunday in downtown Little Rock, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio presented himself as the only Republican presidential candidate who can unite the party and win in November.

LITTLE ROCK — In a rally Sunday in downtown Little Rock, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio presented himself as the only Republican presidential candidate who can unite the party and win in November.


"We don’t have to agree on everything, but we’d better be together or we are going to lose," he said to a crowd at the Statehouse Convention Center.


"I have a 15-year record of turning conservative ideas into conservative policy," said Rubio, who served as a Florida legislator from 2000-08 and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010. "I didn’t become a conservative two years ago, or a year ago."


Assessing the contenders for the Democratic nomination, Rubio said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is "a socialist."


"Now usually when you say that about a candidate in America, they get angry, they deny it. Bernie says it in his commercials," he said.


A woman shouted, "Send them to Cuba!"


"No ma’am, we’re not going to do that," Rubio said. "He’s not a Communist, he’s a Democratic socialist. And that doesn’t make any sense to me. Democratic socialist? There’s like dozens of socialist countries in the world. If you want to live in a socialist country, move to a socialist country."


Rubio said former Arkansas and U.S. first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is "not qualified to be president" because of her use of a private email server for official communications as secretary of state and because of statements she made to the families of four Americans killed in a 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. He claimed Clinton told the families the attack was "because of a YouTube video," a claim Clinton has denied.


"Anyone who lies to the families of people who have lost their lives in the service of our country can never be the commander-in-chief of the United States of America," Rubio said, to cheers from the crowd.


Democrats want to solve every problem with federal programs and regulations, Rubio said, pledging that if he is elected he will cancel Obama’s executive orders, repeal the Affordable Care Act and reform social welfare programs.


"When I’m president of the United States, in order to receive welfare you are either going to be working or going to school," he said.


Rubio also promised a "Reagan-style rebuild of the military" if he is elected.


He spoke of his parents’ immigration from Cuba in 1956 "with nothing" and said he owes a debt to America that he can never repay for the opportunities he received.


"This is the only place on earth where the son of a bartender and a maid can have the same dreams and the same future as the son of a president and the son of a millionaire," he said.


A woman shouted that she was from Cuba, prompting Rubio to joke that he had "doubled the Cuban population of Arkansas here today."


Rubio said that if he is elected he will "be a president for all Americans."


"I will never ask you to be angry at one group of Americans so that I can win an election," he said, drawing one of the loudest cheers of the night.


The rally, Rubio’s first public appearance in Arkansas since entering the presidential race, came a day after he finished second behind billionaire developer Donald Trump and slightly ahead of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the South Carolina primary. Rubio stumped in Little Rock for votes nine days ahead of the state’s March 1 primary.


Several Arkansas elected officials have endorsed Rubio, including Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and U.S. Reps. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, and Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro. State Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, Rubio’s Arkansas chairman, said in introductory remarks at the rally that he is backing Rubio because he can win in November and because of his "personal relationship with Jesus Christ."


"Marco believes that God determines the definition of marriage and not a court," Hester said. "Marco believes that life begins at conception and every single life is worth protection."


Scott Jones, a doctor from Clarksville who attended the rally, said he favors Rubio over Trump because Trump lacks foreign-policy experience.


As for Cruz, Jones said, "I don’t think he’s very honest."