Sen. Marco Rubio on Monday urged hundreds of Republicans to preserve the American dream by electing Ken Cuccinelli II governor of Virginia.

Appearing at a fundraiser at a downtown Richmond hotel, Rubio (R-Fla.) stressed the national importance of the off-year race between Cuccinelli (R), the state’s attorney general, and Terry McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Cuccinelli’s support for the free-enterprise system is essential to ensuring that future generations will have the chance to do better than their parents, said Rubio, who stressed his own humble origins as the son of a hotel bartender and cashier.

“This is a race that allows us to make a statement to the country: that Americans are not prepared to give up on the American dream; that Americans are not prepared to walk away from the one thing that makes us exceptional; that this generation of Americans is willing to do what every generation before us did — whatever it takes to ensure that the American dream survives and that our children inherit what Americans have always inherited from their parents, the single greatest country in the history of the world,” he said. “That is what we have a chance to do here in Virginia.”

Rubio is one of several Republican stars expected to stump in Virginia for Cuccinelli, who has trailed McAuliffe in recent polls.

Prior to Rubio’s appearance, Democrats criticized Rubio and Cuccinelli for what they characterized as a “virtually identical anti-women’s health agenda.”

“It is up to Virginia to prevent that same agenda for taking over the commonwealth,” Annette Taddeo, chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Committee in Florida, said in a conference call organized by the Virginia Democratic Party.

Rubio and Cuccinelli have starkly different views on immigration. Rubio helped craft a Senate plan that would give undocumented immigrants the opportunity to earn citizenship. Cuccinelli took a harder line on illegal immigration while in the state Senate but has not emphasized the issue in his campaign for governor.

“Virginia cannot afford a governor who only differs with Marco Rubio’s extreme agenda when he tries to reform our country’s broken immigration system,” said Del. Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria), chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia.