If most of us failed to show up at our jobs 11% of the time, chances are we’d be sacked. Marco Rubio doesn’t have a problem with it, however. During his time as Florida’s junior senator, he’s missed 11% of the votes. Now, every member of Congress misses a vote on occasion; like everyone else, lawmakers get ill or have family emergencies. However, Rubio’s rate of absenteeism is seven times the Congressional average.
This issue has come up before over the course of Rubio’s campaign. In October, a Florida newspaper published a scathing editorial calling for Rubio to stop ripping off his constituents and either do the job he’s being paid to do or resign. Rubio’s excuse: “I’m not missing votes because I’m on vacation…I’m running for president so that the votes they take in the Senate are actually meaningful again.” For a career politician, he doesn’t have much of a grasp on how American government works or what the role of Executive Office actually entails. Be that as it may, Rubio’s excuse doesn’t fly very well. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has been on the campaign trail longer than Rubio, yet his constituents have no complaints about his job performance.
Recently, Rubio’s rival GOP candidates have been mentioning his absenteeism more frequently. Jeb Bush’s campaign has been running an ad attacking Rubio for missing a security briefing after the Paris terrorist attacks in November and attending a fundraiser on the day of the shootings in San Bernardino, California. The voice-over at the end says it all: “Politics first. That’s the Rubio way.” Bush isn’t the only one: New Jersey governor Chris Christie has also been taking aim at Rubio’s Senate record.
The timing of all this is no coincidence, coming little more than a month before the Iowa caucuses.
Rubio considers their attacks on his Senate absences “increasingly desperate and nasty.” He whined to FAUX News, “I’m not running against them – I’m running for president!” In response to Bush, Rubio campaign spokesman Alex Conant says that Bush “dishonestly omits that Marco is on the Senate’s Intelligence Committee…no other candidate for president has received more classified Intelligence briefings or better understands the threats facing our nation today.” In last October’s GOP debates, Rubio told Bush that “only reason why you’re doing it now is because we’re running for the same position, and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.”
In response to Christie’s criticisms, Rubio says, “Chris Christie’s a funny guy but he’s never in New Jersey, he’s gone half the time.”
So…what’s Rubio’s excuse? “The reason I’m not in Washington right now is really two reasons: Washington’s completely broken, and that’s why I’m running for president, because these votes they’re taking in Washington, they don’t count.”
Could you be a little more specific, Mr. Rubio?
So far, Rubio is speaking in broad generalities. That last statement isn’t telling the electorate anything they don’t already know. Yes, Washington is “completely broken,” and many of the votes they are taking in Congress – such as continued attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and defund Planned Parenthood (which are on hold for now because of the budget negotiations) – are nothing more than political posturing. Still, all things considered, Rubio is the proverbial pot calling the kettle black. He knew what he signed up for when he took his oath of office – and he should have known what he was getting into when he decided to run for the White House. Other senators who have run for executive office – such as John Kerry, Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders – certainly did.
Quit your whining, Marco – either suck it up and do the job Floridians are paying you to do, or give it up if the strain of running for President is proving to be too much for you. You won’t get any sympathy here.