Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio returned to the Senate Tuesday to take his first vote since September 24th. The vote is one that has political ramifications for the Florida senator and could endear him to conservatives.
Rubio missed nine votes in the last three-and-a-half weeks. He has come under fire on the campaign trail for missing more votes than most of his fellow senate colleagues also running for president, according to an NBC analysis. He has missed 44 percent of votes since he announced his candidacy. Only Sen.Lindsey Graham has missed more.
Prior to his vote Tuesday, Rubio gave a speech on the floor that could fuel the attacks against Rubio's attendance.
“All we’re saying here is if you work at the (Veterans Affairs Department) and aren’t doing your job, they get to fire you,” Rubio said. “This should actually be the rule in the entire government - if you aren’t not doing your job you should be fired.”
Rubio's spokesperson defended his speech and his missed votes: "One of the reasons Marco is campaigning hard to be the next president is so he can finally bring accountability to the VA," Brooke Sammon said.
Jeb Bush’s son, Jeb Bush Jr., recently said this to a group of college students: “And it’s just kind of like, dude, you know, either drop out or do something, but we’re paying you to do something, it ain’t run for president.” That was first reported in Politico Florida.
Rubio has defended his record. He was asked about it on October 14 during a campaign event in New Hampshire where he told a member of the audience, “I’m not on vacation.”
“I’m frustrated. I’m in Washington DC watching all these problems that we just talked about and nothing is happening. And what I concluded is nothing’s going to change here unless we put the right person in the White House. And that’s why I decided to run for president and that means you are going to miss votes,” Rubio said.
The vote Rubio did return for Tuesday is one that could help him rebuild trust among conservatives skeptical about his position on immigration. He voted to block federal funding to sanctuary cities – cities that won’t work with federal immigration officials.
Rubio lost credibility among conservatives after his leadership in passing the Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill. He has since walked back his support for comprehensive immigration reform and adopted an enforcement-first approach to the issue.