Should Marco Rubio give up his Senate seat on account of all the votes he’s missed while campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination? Harry Reid sure thinks so.
In an interview with Politico on Thursday, the Senate Minority Leader called his colleague from Florida a “non-entity” who “hates the Senate” and “should be ashamed of himself” for abandoning his day job.
“And the people of Florida, why they put up with it, I don’t know,” Reid said. “They damn sure aren’t getting their money’s worth.”
Reid isn’t the only one knocking Rubio for his spotty attendance record in the Senate; his mentor-turned-rival Jeb Bush attacked him for it at Wednesday night’s debate (to little effect), and the Florida Sun-Sentinel ran an editorial urging him to resign and stop “ripping us off.”
According to GovTrack.us, Rubio has missed 176 out of 1,434 roll-call votes held during his tenure in the Senate, or 12.3 percent, which is “much worse than the median of 1.6% among the lifetime records of senators currently serving.” This year, Rubio has missed 99 out of 291 votes (34 percent), and in the month of October, he has shown up for only one out of 19 votes.
Rubio’s spokesperson, Alex Conant, responded to Reid’s criticism by questioning why the Minority Leader didn’t give then-Senator Barack Obama a similarly hard time when he missed votes while running for president in 2008.
This rejoinder is not without merit: PolitiFact notes that Obama missed 64.3 percent of votes in 2008, and GovTrack shows that his record for 2007 looks pretty similar to Rubio’s for 2015. Obama also had a career absentee rate of 24.2 percent. By comparison, Hillary Clinton’s was 9.5 percent and John Kerry’s was 7.7 percent.
Still, Rubio has missed more votes this year than any other senator in the presidential race. Furthermore, Conant and Rubio’s senior adviser, Todd Harris, both worked on Iowa senator Joni Ernst’s winning campaign last year, in which they went after her opponent Bruce Braley for his record of missing votes in the House of Representatives.
So while Conant takes Reid’s critique as evidence that the Democrats are “very worried that Marco will beat Clinton next year,” he himself might be worried. After all, he knows just how well this line of attack can work.