Florida Senator Marco Rubio faced a throng of Florida teenagers and parents Wednesday night during a CNN town hall, all of whom vociferously pressed him to concede that the state needs to address its notoriously lax gun laws in the wake of a school shooting that left 17 dead in South Florida.
A decisive moment came when Stoneman Douglas High School student Cameron Kasky, poise barely masking contempt, asked Rubio very simply to tell him “right now, that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA.”
“People buy into my agenda,” Rubio told Kasky. “And I do support the second amendment, and I also support the right of you and everyone here 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. And that’s why I support the things I’ve stood for and fought for—”
“[So] you don’t want more NRA money? Or more NRA money,” Kasky fired back. They got into this exchange:
Rubio: That’s the wrong way to look at it. They buy into my agenda.
Kasky: You can stand up [against them].
Rubio: The influence of these groups comes not from money, the influence comes from the millions of people who agree with the agenda.
Kasky: So right now, in the name of 17 people, you cannot ask the NRA to keep their money out of your campaign?
Rubio: No. No, because [...] I will always accept the help of anyone who agrees with my agenda.
(Very big of Rubio, who has profited handsomely from gun lobby money, to dismiss the impact of financial contributions on political campaigns.)
The crowd jeered at Rubio, who refused to answer attendees’ questions, instead spending his question-and-answer session dodging concerns and relaying dull platitudes about his moral compass.
“Your comments this week, and those of our president, have been pathetically weak,” the father of a Stoneman shooting victim told Rubio, to a standing ovation. “You and I are now eye to eye. So look at me and tell me guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids in this school this week. And look at me and tell me you accept it, and you will work with us to do something about guns.”
Plot twist: He wouldn’t.