This article has been updated.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had some tough words Thursday for presidential hopeful Senator Marco Rubio, saying the Florida Republican has “abandoned the Senate” and should resign following recent reports that he “hates” the institution.
“It’s not a question of missing the votes, that’s only part of the deal,” Reid told NBC News in an interview, “But to compare himself to Bob Dole, to John McCain, to John Kerry, to Barack Obama, that takes a lot of gall, a lot of chutzpah.”
“I think he abandoned the Senate, and the state of Florida deserve two senators, not one senator,” Reid said.
Rubio responded to Reid’s criticism on Twitter late on Thursday, linking the Nevada senator with the “liberal media.” He claimed that Reid was “shamelessly” attacking him after giving a then-Sen. Obama a “pass” in 2008.
Rubio has drawn bipartisan criticism for missing a large chunk of Senate votes since he announced his campaign for President, spending time on the road campaigning in key states instead of staying in Washington, DC to vote on legislation. Since Rubio announced he was running for President on April 13 he has missed 74 of 156 votes, or 47% of all the votes the Senate has held.
But Rubio also drew criticism for a recent article in the Washington Post where a longtime friend of the Senator is quoted as saying ‘He hates’ the Senate.
The comments prompted the South Florida Sun Sentinel Editorial Board to call on Rubio to resign, saying, “Sorry, senator, but Floridians sent you to Washington to do a job.”
Rubio’s voting record was front-and-center Wednesday night at the CNBC Republican Debate stage when Jeb Bush called him out for his voting record, saying “Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term, and you should be showing up to work.”
Rubio appeared to be ready for the jab from Bush, responding with what many said was one of Rubio’s strongest moments of the debate.
“I don’t remember you ever complaining about John McCain’s vote record,” Rubio responded to Bush, “The only reason why you’re doing it now is because we’re running for the same position, and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.”
Over the totality of Sen. John McCain’s campaign for president in 2007 and 2008, the Arizona Republican missed 59 percent of the votes the Senate held.
But Senator Reid bristled at Rubio’s comparing himself to McCain, saying previous senators who ran for president “never ever denigrated the Senate” like Rubio has.
“As outspoken as John McCain is he never ever would do anything but talk about the Senate and what a good institution it is,” Reid said, “The 99 of us who serve here are happy to be here.”
Rubio’s campaign responded to Reid criticism by pointing to President Barack Obama’s voting record while running for [resident. Obama missed 96 out of the 318 votes cast by the Senate while he was running for President.
“I must have forgotten Harry Reid similarly calling on Barack Obama to resign the Senate when he missed even more votes to run for president,” Rubio Spokesman Alex Conant said in a statement, “It’s obvious that Democrat leaders are very worried that Marco will beat Clinton next year.”
Rubio is not alone among senators running for president who are also missing large chunks of Senate votes. Sen Lindsey Graham, R-SC, has missed 52 votes since announcing his run in June, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, has missed 65 since announcing his campaign in March. Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, has missed only a few votes since announcing his run in April, only skipping 12 of the 156 votes the Senate has held since his announcement.