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Marco Rubio again defends missing Senate votes

Sen. Marco Rubio on Wednesday again dismissed criticism about missing votes in the United States Senate.

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire — Sen. Marco Rubio on Wednesday again dismissed criticism about missing votes in the United States Senate.

"When I miss a vote or two in Washington, it's not because I'm on vacation, it's because I'm running for president," he told NBC News while speaking to reporters after a campaign event at Dynamic Network Services, an Internet services company in Manchester. "In my four and a half years there, I've been deeply frustrated by the lack of progress on any major issue and we're not going to make progress unless we have the right person in the White House."

RELATED: Rubio baffles Iowans with his absence

"I'm running for president and when you run for president as I'm doing, you're going to miss some votes and you're going to miss some time as other candidates have had to do in the past," he told reporters. "A lot of the work we're doing in the Senate isn't going to go anywhere unless we have the right president and that's why I'm running for president."

Asked if he has considered resigning his seat since his focus is on running for higher office, he told reporters, "No, I'm going to serve out my term, I'm proud to serve the people of Florida and we continue to be engaged in constituent service and important issues in Washington.

"We've canceled events in the past in order to be there when we can be a decisive voice to move policy forward," he added.

Rubio is forgoing a re-election run in 2016.

Fellow presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has criticized lawmakers who don't cast votes, telling a crowd in Bettendorf, Iowa, that he thinks pay should be cut for elected officials who don't show up to work. "I don't know about you but this idea that somehow voting isn't important. I mean what are they supposed to do," Bush said Tuesday. "They should go to the committee hearings. They should vote."

In an op-ed in the Des Moines Register published on Tuesday, Bush also jabbed both Donald Trump and all of the senators running for president, saying "We are not going to fix a dysfunctional Washington, D.C., by electing a celebrity entertainer or D.C. senator who is either part of the problem or has proven incapable of fixing it."

Rubio told reporters Wednesday morning that Bush remains a good friend. "I have great admiration and respect for him and affection for him a person," he said. "I'm not running against Jeb Bush, I'm running for president and you know there are other people running as well."

Since announcing his candidacy for president in April, Rubio has missed 59 votes, or 42 percent of the Senate votes during that time. That's a higher percentage than all of the other senators running for president except Lindsey Graham, who has missed 48 percent of votes since his announcement.

On Tuesday, he was the only senator to miss a cloture vote on the National Defense Authorization Act. The bill passed 73-26 and needed 60 to advance, so his vote would not have mattered.

Rubio also defended his absence from Senate votes on the TODAY Show Tuesday morning, saying, "The majority of the job of being a senator isn't walking on to the Senate floor and lifting your finger on a non-controversial issue and saying which way you're going to vote. The majority of the work of a senator is the constituent service."

But back in April, when Rubio was pushing several amendments to the Iran deal he was backing, he was singing a different tune.

"If you don't want to vote on things, don't run for the Senate. If you don't want to vote on things, don't run for office," he said while giving a speech on the Senate floor. "Be a columnist. Get a talk show. Everyone who runs for office knows that what we are called to do here is vote on issues on which sometimes we are uncomfortable." 

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