Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) was as slippery as he could possibly be tonight at CNN’s live town hall on gun violence.
Surrounded by the survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting who watched their friends and teachers gunned down in front of them less than a week ago, Rubio refused to give the answer they all wanted to hear when one of the teenage survivors asked the question they were all waiting to hear asked.
It was Cameron Kasky who had the temerity to ask Rubio to his face:
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“Sen. Rubio, can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA?”” asked the articulate and composed sudent.
The crowd at the town hall cheered wildly when the shooting survivor asked the question, but Rubio’s response was not nearly as popular.
The Senator tried to turn the question around, initially ignoring the direct question by making it about the NRA supporting his agenda rather than the other way around. He started by affirming that he’s held his position regarding the modern interpretation of the second amendment since he first sought elected office.
The answer to the question is that people buy into my agenda and I do support the 2nd amendment and I also support the right of you and everyone here to be able to go to school and be safe. And I do support any law that would keep guns out of the hands of a deranged killer.”
Kasky wouldn’t let Rubio off the hook so easily, noting that Rubio hadn’t answered the question, asked him again whether he would foreswear NRA donations to his campaign.
Rubio tried again to turn it around, stammering and beginning to tell the teen that he was looking at the issue the wrong way before realizing that his condescension wouldn’t play well to a national TV audience and pivoting to say “First of all the answer is that people buy into my agenda,” while the audience peppered him with incredulous catcalls and interrupted his response.
Rubio gathered his thoughts and continued:
“The influence of these groups comes not from money. The influence comes from the millions of people who agree with the agenda. The millions of Americans that support the NRA, who support gun rights..”
At this point, the angry response from the crowd forced host Jake Tapper to interrupt the Senator to calm the crowd down and let him finish his answer. He stammered a bit longer and tried to say that NRA funding was not the issue at hand.
With a once in a lifetime opportunity to speak directly to Rubio in front of a live television audience, Kasky was not going to let Rubio wriggle out answering the question. He went on to suggest that the NRA contributions could be replaced with funds donated by the people in the town hall who wanted the NRA out of politics.
Rubio was finally forced to give his real answer to the question:
“I will always accept the support of anyone who agrees with my agenda.”
It took him long enough to get to it, but Senator Marco Rubio basically admitted that his agenda was the NRA agenda. No one in the town hall wanted to hear that answer, but hopefully they’ll remember it well once Rubio runs for re-election.
You can watch the entire exchange here in this clip from CNN.
Cameron Kasky, who survived the school shooting: “Sen. Rubio, can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA?”
Rubio: “People buy into my agenda, and I do support the Second Amendment” #StudentsStandUp https://t.co/ucmVB74g1C
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) February 22, 2018