- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 25, 2015

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on Sunday defended his frequent absenteeism from the Senate floor as he campaigns for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, saying many of the votes he has missed were on bills that would be vetoed by President Obama, anyway.

“Unfortunately, too many of them are not meaningful,” he told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Mr. Rubio has lagged behind GOP front-runners Donald Trump and Ben Carson, but his strong debate performances and youthful message of hope has campaign-minders viewing him as a serious threat to the establishment favorite, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and to Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton in a general election.

Yet his attempts to gain traction on the trail have come at a cost, according to critics who have tallied his absenteeism on the floor and say it outpaces that of other GOP senators running for president.

Compounding the issue, Mr. Rubio used a recent floor speech to say under-performing government employees should be fired.

On Sunday, he insisted he is not a hypocrite.

“Voting is not the only part of the Senate job,” Mr. Rubio said, saying constituent service often supersedes voting.

He also took shots at Mr. Trump’s lack of experience on foreign affairs, saying “to this point in the campaign, he has not proven an understanding of these issues.”

Mr. Rubio said he would support whoever becomes the GOP presidential nominee, although he is increasingly confident it will be himself, not Mr. Trump.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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