As Paul noted earlier today, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush have attacked Marco Rubio for missing Senate votes. Rubio’s response, for the reasons Paul points out, has not always been strong.
I was with a Rubio staffer a couple of weeks ago who asked what I thought of the issue. I suggested that Rubio’s staff look into the voting records of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, who was notorious for viewing his Senate duties as strictly honorary. I am not sure whether Rubio’s staff has done that investigation, but the Daily Mail has. The results suggest that it will be hard for the Democratic nominee to make much of Rubio’s Senate attendance record:
Marco Rubio’s absences from the U.S. Senate floor during his presidential campaign have earned him the nickname ‘no show Rubio,’ but Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both had far higher rates of legislative truancy while they ran for the White House in 2007 and 2008.
A DailyMail.com analysis of Senate roll call records found that Rubio has missed 44.6 per cent of his votes since April, the month when he launched his Oval Office bid. That includes a 53.8 per cent absence rate in the third quarter of 2015, from July to September.
In the same quarter of 2007, as he frequently left Washington, D.C. for the Democratic primary’s early voting states, Obama missed 56.3 of his votes.
The final quarter of 2007, leading up to the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary, saw the future president post even more dismal numbers – missing 89.4 per cent of his opportunities to shout ‘aye’ or ‘nay.’
Clinton, in hot pursuit of Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, missed 83.5 per cent that quarter.
Throughout the months he was running for president in 2008, Obama skipped 64.3 per cent of his votes as an Illinois U.S. Senator. Clinton’s record was worse still in 2008 – a 68.4 per cent absence rate – through her withdrawal from the race on June 8 of that year.
I agree with Paul, nevertheless, that of Rubio’s several responses to this criticism, the weakest is the one he gave during the second presidential debate–the fact that he is leaving the Senate to go where the real power is, the White House. It isn’t difficult to explain that most Senate votes are neither close nor particularly controversial. There is little reason for any senator to vote on everything. On the other hand, when a vote is important, Rubio has canceled campaign stops to be on the Senate floor. I know this from experience, as Marco canceled a fundraiser in Minneapolis in which I was participating to cast an important vote on Iran.
So this issue shouldn’t hurt Rubio, but he needs to handle it more adroitly.
PAUL ADDS: Democrats are already criticizing Rubio’s voting record via organs like the Washington Post. So, of course, are his Republican rivals. The theme is already taking hold. It will only get worse if Rubio emerges as the likely nominee.