CNBC GOP debate
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) turned a presidential debate question asking him if he "hates his job" into a diatribe on the mainstream media, and then quickly went on the offensive after Jeb Bush called him out for missing several votes in the Senate.
In an editorial earlier in the day, the Sun Sentinel in Florida said because he is running for president, Rubio has missed more votes than any other senator this year and is "ripping us off." When asked at Wednesday's GOP debate if he hated his job, Rubio didn't respond, instead lashing out at the Sun Sentinel for not saying anything when John Kerry and President Obama missed votes while on the campaign trail. "This is another example of a double standard that exists in this country between the mainstream media and conservatives," he said to applause.
Bush piped up, saying that he's a constituent of Rubio and "expected that he would do constituent service, meaning he shows up to work. He got endorsed by the Sun Sentinel because he was the most talented guy in the field. He's a gifted politician. But Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term and you should be showing up for work. Literally, what is the Senate, like a French work week? You get like three days you have to show up?"
Bush then suggested that Rubio resign and let someone else take the job, since "there are a lot of people working paycheck to paycheck in Florida as well, looking for a senator that will fight for them each and every day."
Rubio swiftly pointed out that Bush said he is modeling his campaign after John McCain's, and asked, "Do you know how many votes John McCain missed when he was carrying out that furious comeback? I don't remember you ever complaining about John McCain's vote record. The only reason why you're doing it now is because we're running for the same position and someone convinced you that attacking me is gonna help you." Rubio added that he will not go after anyone onstage. Minutes later, his communications director sent out a tweet urging people to watch the Bush vs. Rubio smackdown, then watch it again.
It wasn't the first combative moment of the night. Just minutes into the debate, Donald Trump was asked (in his opinion, "not very nicely") if he was running a "comic book version of a presidential campaign," and Ohio Gov. John Kasich said his fellow candidates were making "empty promises" and playing "fantasy tax games." Later, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ripped the moderators, saying Americans don't trust the media, and they had reason not to — CNBC's questions, he said, were barbed and didn't focus on matters of substance. "This is not," he added, "a cage match." Catherine Garcia