Salt Lake City, Utah (CNN)Marco Rubio ventured off the early primary state path on Monday to hold a rally in Utah, a state that doesn't caucus until later in March but may prove more competitive than in the past.
Marco Rubio hits the trail in Utah
"Who knows -- that might be the night we seal the nomination," he said to big applause at the campaign event, which took place at the Utah State Fair park grounds here in Salt Lake City.
As of now, the state GOP lists March 22 as its caucus night for the 2016 presidential race. While the date falls later in the primary calendar than a series of other big states, Utah could help narrow the wider-than-usual Republican field.
Also making the state more competitive: Mitt Romney won't be in the running. The former Massachusetts governor, who's been highly active in the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, carried the state in 2008 and 2012 by a landslide. (Utah was one of the last states to caucus in 2012, when Romney had already clinched the nomination.)
Rubio, who spent three years in the Mormon faith as a child, didn't mention his LDS ties during the rally on Monday. He did, however, say that he came to Salt Lake City when he was nine-years-old. In his memoir, "An American Son," Rubio recalls his father taking his family to Salt Lake City and Provo in 1980 to see the Temple sites.
Lt. Gov. Spencer J. Cox, who's backing Rubio, appeared on stage on Monday, as did the Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes and U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart, who chairs Rubio's Utah operation.
Rep. Mia Love, a Utah Republican elected to Congress in 2014, was in the audience at Rubio's rally. Rubio came out to the state at her invitation, and the two lawmakers met privately while he was here.
She didn't endorse the candidate but said she is a "big fan" of the senator's, noting that the two share a similar story of having parents who emigrated from another country. Rubio's parents, as he often mentions, came to the United States from Cuba, while Love's came from Haiti.
Love, talking to reporters after the rally, said she has invited several other Republican candidates to come to Utah, but praised Rubio for being the first, saying it spoke "volumes."
"He showed Utah that we are not just a flyover state," she said.