The 2016 GOP presidential primary proved Sen. Marco Rubio isn't particularly great at thinking on his feet. He was infamously nicknamed "Robot Rubio" after getting caught repeating the same, scripted anti-Obama talking point four different times during the debates last year. Robot Rubio was then immortalized on The Simpsons, in what we hope will be the only video clip of Lil' Marco that survives the coming nuclear winter.
Well, Lord help us, Marco Rubio is back on his bullshit. Yesterday the senator was ambushed by a climate-change activist at a fundraiser in Altamonte Springs. After she asked why he's taken campaign donations from major oil companies, Rubio kinda, sorta hinted that the protester ought to mind her manners, because in other countries, she'd be thrown in prison for speaking her mind.
"Senator, if you really care about young Americans, why did you take three-quarters of a million dollars from fossil-fuel executives in your last Senate election?" the activist stood and asked, cutting off the senator midspeech.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Rubio's campaign committee and leadership PAC have taken $1.1 million from oil and gas industry sources during his career. Like most GOP lawmakers, Rubio previously said he believed in climate change as a young state legislator but has since walked back his stance.
In response to the interruption, Rubio pandered to the elderly GOP crowd, boasted about how great America is, and tacitly reminded his young constituent to be thankful for where she lives, because if Rubio were a Turkish politician, you bet he'd be sending her to the stocks for speaking out of line.
"I'm so glad I live in America where she can say that," Rubio responded. "In a lot of other countries, she'd go to jail. I'm grateful that I live in America."
The fundraiser attendees washed him in applause, and a few folks even gave him a standing ovation for being extremely condescending to the young activist. The 19-year-old is part of a national network of climate-change activists called the "Sunrise Movement," which paints itself as a grassroots network of people in their teens and twenties dedicated to confronting lawmakers about climate change. The group was founded by two environmental activists, former 350.org fellow Varshini Prakash and Viriginia-based climate activist Dyanna Jaye.
Before Rubio spoke, gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam, who is running a Trump-lite campaign based on bashing the press as "fake news," publishing campaign ads full of scarily high numbers of white people, and being an all-around asshole, made fun of the protesters outside for using a tambourine.
"What is protest-ful about a tambourine?” Putnam asked, according to the Orlando Sentinel . “If you’re going to protest, bring a real instrument. Come on... There’s plenty of room in New York if they want to move there.”
Rubio brought up Putnam's joke after getting interrupted.
"I knew that might happen, so let me segue into that," he continued. "Adam talked about protesters—"
"I'm not a protester. I just want to know why you aren't answering our questions," the woman asked.
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The activist had a bit of a point: Rubio has stopped holding town halls with his constituents and is largely unresponsive to the public because he thinks people at town halls "get rude and stupid" when they're allowed to ask him questions. This might be because Rubio has proposed crippling the nation's health-care system — just a wild guess. Since getting reelected to the Senate last year, Rubio has spent 2017 blindly backing Donald Trump's policy proposals (though he did exceed many of his colleagues by doing the bare minimum of condemning the president for his neo-Nazi-normalizing speech) and being an all-around dick to people who have complained that his stance on Obamacare might lead to needless deaths.
In February, another activist caught Rubio in a Jackson Memorial Hospital hallway after he'd previously told the public he was out of town and therefore unavailable to speak with his constituents, just as the Obamacare-repeal debates were heating up in Congress. Rubio swiftly evaded the guy:
According to reporters who attended the fundraiser, protesters also demonstrated outside the event, loudly chanting about the fact that Rubio refuses to hold town halls to face the public but is happy to schedule fancy dinners with GOP donors where they pay anywhere from $150 to $3,000 to clap along to Marco's blather while eating steak tartare.
WMFE-FM, Central Florida's NPR affiliate, reported that a protester paid $600 to bring her child with cerebral palsy into the event, with the sole purpose of confronting Rubio about his needlessly cruel stances on health-insurance reform. The radio station also reported that the protester in question was escorted out of the building.