MECHANICSVILLE, Va. — Ted Cruz has joined the chorus of Republicans targeting Marco Rubio for his poor Senate attendance record.
Rubio missed a high-profile vote Friday on the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill. Both Rubio and Cruz opposed the deal, with Rubio at one point this week saying Republicans should try to slow it down, but only Cruz returned to Washington to actually vote “no.”
At a campaign stop later in the day near Richmond, Virginia, only a couple of hours from the Capitol, Cruz hit his fellow senator for missing the vote.
“I’m going to let Marco defend his own voting record. I can tell you that I flew back to Washington, D.C. today to vote against this omnibus,” Cruz told reporters in Mechanicsville.
But the candidate’s aides were much more biting, spending much of Friday highlighting past missed votes by Rubio, using hashtags like #NoShowMarco and ridiculing his light footprint on the campaign trail. The Texas senator has noted in prior appearances of times he canceled fundraisers to make Washington votes he sees as impactful.
“.@marcorubio FOUND! – Missed the spending bill vote today b/c he had 1 event in a row in Iowa – a record-setting breakneck pace for Marco,” Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler tweeted.
Rubio, who was campaigning in Iowa in Friday before an event in Missouri, defended his missed vote in an interview with CBS, saying: “In essence, not voting for it is a vote against it.”
Ken Cuccinelli endorses Cruz
Cruz's new offensive came as he looked to continue to rebuke Rubio for his attempt to pass comprehensive immigration reform in 2013, a bill that Cruz opposed, in part, over its pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. On Friday, his campaign received a fresh surrogate in that contrast from Ken Cuccinelli, the head of the Senate Conservatives Fund, a Washington pressure group despised by Senate leadership for looking to replace Republican incumbents.
The endorsement of Cuccinelli, the former attorney general in Virginia and a GOP candidate for governor, was not unexpected -- his top political aide at SCF, Matt Hoskins, has already been working for Cruz behind the scenes. But it gave Cruz a new ally in the immigration wars, with Cuccinelli alleging Friday onstage in Richmond that some are trying to "muddy the waters" over Cruz's voting record.
The Texas senator has portrayed Rubio's decision to back the 2013 bill as motivated primarily by winning over top Republican moneymen, and on Friday he mocked that Rubio was enamored by the fame as well.
"Back in 2013, the Rubio campaign believed it would benefit them politically if they broke their promises to the Florida voters and pushed amnesty," he said. "Remember, that was back when Senator Rubio was on the cover of Time magazine named 'The Savior.' Well, they're regretting that decision now."