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Marco Rubio to the rescue! Freshman senator saves a falling Nancy Reagan

August 24, 2011 |  4:46 am

Nancy Reagan and Marco Rubio enter the auditorium at the Reagan Library for his speech 8-23-11

It all began with smiles Tuesday night at the Reagan Presidential Library.

In a kind of West Coast political coming-out party, newly-minted conservative U.S. Sen. Marco....

Former first lady Nancy Reagan acknowledges the Reagan Library crowd's applause on the arm of Sen. Marco Rubio 8-23-11

....Rubio of Florida, a tea party favorite, had been invited to speak as part of the Simi Valley institution's prestigious speakers series. His name keeps surfacing in 2012 GOP vice presidential chatter.

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan, now 90 years young, plays an active role in the frequent events, which she sees as an important ongoing part of the political legacy of her husband. Ronald Reagan was the 40th president. He died in 2004 and is buried a few yards from the auditorium.Nancy Reagan's cane appears to slip 8-23-11

On Sept. 7 the library will be the site of the next Republican presidential primary debate.

According to tradition, as hostess of the speaking events, which are live-streamed on the library's website, Mrs. Reagan enters the packed house on the arm of the evening's speaker.

Tuesday night Mrs. Reagan and the 40-year-old Rubio walked slowly down the aisle to the enthusiastic applause of some 1,200 guests, plus an overflow crowd.

Mrs. Reagan acknowledged with nods and smiles some familiar faces in the crowd.

But as they neared Mrs. Reagan's front row chair, something happened.

She seemed to lurch to her right. Her cane appeared to slip on the floor.

And the frail first lady lady began to fall toward a hard landing on her right side.

Many in the crowd were still buzzing with excitement and could not see what....

ReaganNancyFallDownRubio8-23-11APJaeCHong

.... was unfolding near the front. Others nearby could and there were audible gasps.

Fortunately, Rubio sensed the stumble. He braced his legs and caught the president's widow by her left arm as she swung into him.

Secret Service and other crowd members quickly rushed in to assist Mrs. Reagan to her feet and a chair. She appeared to be uninjured and after some moments, the program proceeded. Mrs. Reagan previously suffered a fractured pelvis in a 2008 fall that required hospitalization.

Click here for a separate item with video on Rubio's 23-minute remarks and Q and A session with audience members.

We also have video of the incident here from MyFoxOrlando.com.

VIDEO: Nancy Reagan falls : MyFoxORLANDO.com

RELATED:

Television review: 'Nancy Reagan' and 'Reagan'

Reagan Centennial: PBS looks at Nancy; HBO looks at Ron

Nancy Reagan, Clintons, Bush to attend Betty Ford memorial

-- Kate O'Hare

Media critic Kate O’Hare is a regular Ticket contributor. She also blogs about TV at Hot Cuppa TV and is a frequent contributor at entertainment news site Zap2it. Also follow O'Hare on Twitter @KateOH.

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Photo series: Jae C. Hong / Associated Press.    Video: MyFoxOrlando.com

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