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Rubio Still Murky on Flint Crisis Details

Sen. Marco Rubio still seemed murky on the details of the Flint water crisis Thursday.
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Sen. Marco Rubio still seemed murky on the details of the Flint water crisis Thursday, after telling reporters earlier this week he’d have more to say following a Senate briefing on the issue on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters after a national security forum in Manchester, N.H., Rubio was asked again about his opinion on the crisis, and pegged the issue to polluted lake water — though the residents of Flint were poisoned by lead from pipes leaching into their water, after the city switched its source from Detroit to the Flint River in April 2014.

“There was a significant government breakdown in terms of when they switched the power, the water source to a lake that was known to be polluted and unfortunately now we have people that are facing this terrible situation with potential lead poisoning and all sorts of things, it's a very, a systemic and ugly breakdown at the local and state level,” Rubio said.

The crisis has drawn national attention over the past few weeks. Governor Rick Snyder (R-Michigan)’s administration declared a state of emergency in January, a few months after the administration was warned that lead might be leaching into the drinking water. At last week’s Democratic debate, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned Snyder for the way he handled the crisis.

The miscue comes after Rubio attended a Senate briefing yesterday to get a better understanding of the issue.

“Obviously he misspoke -- they switched the water from a lake to a river,” Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said to NBC News.

Rubio hadn’t commented on the crisis previously because he said he was waiting to get more information.

“I’ll be briefed tomorrow on that issue, more in depth. I want to abstain from commenting on it any further until I know all the facts,” he said at a press conference in Minneapolis on Tuesday. “I usually abstain from commenting on issues, particularly one that have reached this level of scrutiny until I’m well informed. I want to make sure whatever I say is both fair and honest about it but I understand it’s a significant issue.”

On Monday, he was asked whether he agreed with Snyder, who said the issue had been politicized. Rubio said he hadn’t focused on the issue at all.

“Look, that's not an issue that right now we've been focused on,” he told reporters at the time.