NEW YORK — Sen. Marco Rubio said Monday it was a “mistake” for the United States not to have a high-ranking official attend the massive rally Sunday in Paris, where world leaders were among at least 3.7 million people who marched in solidarity after last week’s terror attacks.
“I thought it was a mistake not to send someone,” the Florida Republican said on CBS’ “This Morning.”
The absence of well-known U.S. officials has put the Obama administration on defense, with Secretary of State John Kerry calling criticism of the decision “quibbling” on Sunday. Kerry could not attend the event because of a prior commitment in India.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was in Paris attending a summit on fighting terrorism, but he was no where to be seen at the march.
Rubio, who’s releasing a new book “American Dreams” as he considers a presidential bid, said he understands why President Barack Obama did not attend, arguing that his security detail could become “disruptive” at an event like the rally.
But he suggested Holder or Kerry should have gone. “There are a plethora of people they could have sent,” he said. “I think in hindsight, I would hope that they would do it differently.”
Rubio recalled how other world leaders stood with the United States after the 9/11 attacks.
“The French are going through a similar trauma,” he continued. “I thought it would have been important to have someone there.”
French President François Hollande’s office defended Obama. A senior official told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the U.S. president has been “very present” since the attacks, noting that he was one of the first leaders to call Hollande last Wednesday.
The official also pointed to Obama’s visit to the French Embassy in Washington last week. “For us It was an emotional moment of solidarity,” the official said.