Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says he’s well within his rights to skip votes in Congress. After all, Rubio told Wednesday night’s GOP debate, that’s how John Kerry and Barack Obama rolled when they were senators running for the White House.
Rubio has come under escalating pressure to step down due to his attendance record in the Senate and his expression of frustration with the chamber. Government watchdogs have called on him to resign if he doesn't want to do the work. Rubio missed 10 percent of votes in 2014, and nearly 30 percent of votes so far this year. He is paid $174,000 annually to be a senator.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is lagging in the polls behind businessman Donald Trump and neurosurgeon Ben Carson, tried to capitalize on the topic by going on the offensive. Calling himself a constituent of Rubio’s, Bush said Rubio knew what he was signing up for when he was elected to the post and “expected that he would do constituent services.”
“Marco, when you signed up for this, this is a six-year term,” Bush told Rubio. “The Senate, what is it, like a French workweek? Like three days, where you have to show up? You can campaign. Or just resign and let someone take the job. There are a lot of people who are living paycheck to paycheck in Florida, and they’re looking for a senator who can fight for them each and every day.”
Rubio shot back that Bush was only attacking him because strategists said that it would be the smart thing to do.
“The only reason you’re doing it now is because we’re running for the same position, and someone has convinced you attacking me is going to help you... I will continue to have tremendous admiration for Gov. Bush,” Rubio said.
The moderators of the debate, on CNBC, opened the discussion with a pointed question to Rubio about whether he should resign.
His answer: nope.
“This country is running out of time,” Rubio said, shrugging off the question. Citing an economic crisis and growing military weakness, Rubio suggested that he wanted to distance himself from the problems of Congress. “We have a $19 trillion bipartisan debt, and it continues to grow… the time to act is now, the time to turn the page is now.”
Florida’s Sun Sentinel newspaper earlier this week called on Rubio to resign if he doesn’t like his job.
Rubio countered at the CNBC debate that former Sens. John Kerry and Barack Obama missed a large percentage of votes when they ran for president in prior election cycles, and that the call for resignation was a sign of media bias.
“In 2004, John Kerry ran for president, missing close to 60 to 70 percent of the votes... In 2008, Barack Obama missed 60 or 70 percent of his votes, and the same newspaper endorsed him again,” Rubio protested. “This is another example of the double standard that exists in this country, between the mainstream media and conservatives.”
For the record, the Sun Sentinel endorsed Rubio in 2010 when he ran for Senate.