The Marco Rubio Show (Rookie Hijinks)

Detail of photo by Jason Reed/Reuters.

“In essence, not voting for it is a vote against it.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)

This is the Marco Rubio Show:

For months, Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio has been dogged by questions about his rampant absenteeism from the Senate. On Friday, the senator from Florida missed another vote. This one stood out more than most―for the legislation’s scope and the extent of Rubio’s criticism of it.

Rubio was one of just two senators who did not vote on on a sweeping tax and spending bill that passed with bipartisan support. His three Republican Senate colleagues running for president each cast votes.


The thing is, Mr. Rubio said on Thursday he knew “enough to say we’re going to oppose it, and I know enough to say that we should use every procedural aspect that we have to slow it down and perhaps force some changes on these things that we’ve been discussing”.

Or, as Steve Benen of msnbc put it:

But when Rubio said “we,” he wasn’t referring to himself. In fact, he did not take any steps to pursue his goal: the Republican didn’t show up on Capitol Hill to try to delay the process, and a day later, Rubio also didn’t show up to vote against the bill he wanted to kill.

And you’re not going to believe this bit from Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post

“Votes like Friday’s are why Marco is running for president,” said his campaign spokesman, Alex Conant. “Leaders in Washington crafted this trillion-dollar spending bill in secret, and unveiled it during the debate on Tuesday night. Marco had barely 48 hours to review over 2,000 pages of spending. Marco has consistently voted against those sorts of bills, but the truth is that it’s not going to change until we elect a new president. That’s why Marco is meeting voters in Iowa today.”

Yes, really.

It almost feels, well, deliberate.

Seriously. Basic attendance is an issue that has been hounding the junior U.S. Senator throughout his presidential campagin; David A. Farenthold in October ran under headline, “Rubio gives up on Senate: ‘He hates it'”:

Marco Rubio is a U.S. senator. And he just can’t stand it anymore.

“I don’t know that ‘hate’ is the right word,” Rubio said in an interview. “I’m frustrated.”

This year, as Rubio runs for president, he has cast the Senate — the very place that cemented him as a national politician — as a place he’s given up on, after less than one term. It’s too slow. Too rule-bound. So Rubio, 44, has decided not to run for his seat again. It’s the White House or bust.

“That’s why I’m missing votes. Because I am leaving the Senate. I am not running for reelection,” Rubio said in the [16 September] Republican debate, after Donald Trump had mocked him for his unusual number of absences during Senate votes.

Yes. Really.

And if that isn’t enough, consider that in last week’s debate, Mr. Rubio went after Sen. Ted Cruz for voting against the National Defense Authorization Act. Christopher Massie of BuzzFeed explains the inevitable punch line:

Marco Rubio attacked Ted Cruz during Tuesday’s CNN debate for voting against the annual bill that authorizes military spending for the following fiscal year, but Rubio missed this year’s vote to campaign in New Hampshire.

“Three times he voted against the Defense Authorization Act, which is a bill that funds the troops,” the Florida senator and Republican presidential candidate said. “It also, by the way, funds the Iron Dome and other important programs and I have to assume that if you vote against it in the Senate, you would also veto it as president.”

One of Cruz’s “nay” votes came on Oct. 7, in a vote Rubio missed. The bill passed 70-27, despite Rubio’s absence.

And even on that occasion, well, the job he has just cannot hold a candle to the job he wants.

Steve Benen calls it, “The latest in a series of rookie mistakes for Marco Rubio”, and we might beg leave to differ if only because the mistake part is in doubt. Certes, the Campaign for a New American Century is about all manner of rookie hijinks, but much like Rubio’s Iowa strategy, it is only a mistake if he doesn’t pull it off. And it is more the fight with Cruz in general than the missed votes that is seems to hurt him in the polls; his numbers rose through November despite the ongoing controversy. In late September his poll share spiked after the debate; having actually acknowledged―even proudly declared―he had given up on the Senate did not seem to hurt him, and in a year like this might well turn out to help. It really is strange.

Then again, this is the 2016 GOP Clown Car.

And this is the Marco Rubio Show.


Image note: Detail of photo by Jason Reed/Reuters.

Benen. Steve. “‘No-Show Rubio’ faces friendly fire”. msnbc. 21 December 2015.

—————. “The latest in a series of rookie mistakes for Marco Rubio”. msnbc. 17 December 2015.

Farenthold, David A. “Rubio gives up on Senate: ‘He hates it'”. The Washington Post. 25 October 2015.

Massie, Christopher. “Rubio Skipped Vote On Defense Bill He Attacked Cruz For Voting Against”. BuzzFeed. 15 December 2015.

Sullivan, Sean. “Marco Rubio missed yet another Senate vote. Why this one stood out.” The Washington Post. 18 December 2015.

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