Update 12 pm: New Times has obtained video of Rubio running away from a protester at Jackson Memorial Hospital this morning, refusing to discuss why he's skipping town hall meetings.
Marco Rubio has been in Europe all week. Why? No one really knows! Members of Rubio's staff told the Tampa Bay Times yesterday that the U.S. senator from Florida is meeting with representatives from Germany and France this week to discuss alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. But Rubio's office declined to say the cities he's visiting or even the countries in which the meetings are taking place.
But conveniently, the trip has put an entire ocean between Rubio and his angry constituents just as his Republican colleagues nationwide are being bombarded with fury over their plans to repeal Obamacare. Earlier this week, Rubio used the trip as an excuse to skip citizen-backed town-hall meetings across Florida.
And though Rubio will be back in town tonight, he still plans to skip a town hall for which hundreds of his constituents plan to show up at the Universalist Unitarian Church in Southwest Miami-Dade.
The meeting was planned by Miami's chapter of the national Indivisible Movement, one of the largest anti-Trump groups to form after last year's election. The group has successfully mobilized scores of local constituents to show up at GOP town-hall meetings across the nation to ask Republicans what in hell is going on in D.C.
Indivisible has been compared to a left-wing Tea Party, albeit one that conducts itself in a far more civil, fact-based, and Sarah Palin-free manner.
The group says it asked Rubio to attend the meeting, but he ignored all the requests.
"Indivisible Miami offered to co-host an event with Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, who has yet to respond to numerous petitions and calls for an open forum in which his constituents can engage freely with the Senator," Indivisible South Florida, which is co-hosting the town hall, wrote online earlier this week. The event is cosponsored by the organizers behind the Miami Women's March, as well as the South Florida Against the Insanity Action Group.
"The purpose of the Town Hall is to create a regular citizen forum for the exchange of ideas, concerns and desired legislative outcomes with elected officials who represent the State of Florida," Indivisible South Florida wrote online. The groups have not yet released a list of the event's speakers.
But there are even more signs that Rubio's European
vacation diplomacy mission might have been fairly impromptu: Indivisible Miami says it has scheduled a meeting with the senator yesterday, but Rubio's office abruptly canceled Monday, ostensibly because the besuited sea slug Rubio had hopped a plane to Germany and/or France to talk to his European counterparts for the week.
But whether the secretive "mission" (we can only hope Rubio is actually underneath the Kremlin, judo-chopping Russian agents in the neck like former Secretary of State John Kerry) is warranted, Rubio will, yet again, come across as a man afraid of criticism or standing up for himself.
Around the country, angry constituents have flooded town-hall meetings to scream at representatives who have been trying to take away citizens' health care and/or straight-up lying to them. Earlier this month, Florida Rep. Gus
Rubio, meanwhile, has been criticized for years for skipping workdays to spend time campaigning for president. His Senate vote record is abysmal. Now, when his constituents want to talk to him, Rubio is busy doing the one thing we never would expect: working.
This post has been updated with information from Rubio's travel schedule.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.