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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio: Senate has 'obligation' to take up Scalia replacement, 'but not now'



Marco Rubio on Sunday stood by his contention that the Senate should not take up President Obama’s choice for a successor to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

“We have an obligation to do it, but not now,” Rubio said on Meet the Press. “This term of the Supreme Court, they just started it. But it's not all year long. The court can function with eight justices, it does it all the time, especially when justices have to recuse themselves.

“We're going to have an election in November where this vacancy is going to be an item of debate and voters are going to get their weigh in. So I just don't think it's wise. And there's precedent for this, for a president nearing the last few months of his administration, to put someone on the court that may be there for 30 years.” (Rubio's suggestion of precedence is false, according to PolitiFact.)

He was more blunt on Fox News Sunday. “The president can nominate whoever he wants, but the Senate is not going to act, and that’s pretty clear. So, we can keep debating it but we’re not moving forward on it, period.”

Rubio also stood by his words during the debate about 9/11: “The World Trade Center came down because Bill Clinton didn't kill Osama bin Laden when he had the chance to kill him.”

Moderator Chuck Todd said, “That's a big charge. I know Bill Clinton has said it is one of his regrets, but he did make an attempt to go after him. But you believe that is a direct result? That basically Bill Clinton's failure led to 9/11?"

Rubio: "Well, I believe that if Osama bin Laden had been killed, Al Qaeda as an organization would not have grown to the point where it have conducted 9/11. And it was in response to this argument that Trump was making, that somehow President Bush was responsible for 9/11. And my argument was, no, the responsibility of 9/11 falls on the fact that Al Qaeda was allowed to grow and prosper and the decision was not made to take out the leader when the chance existed to do so.

"Not once, but for times, according to the 9/11 report. President Clinton has acknowledged that as a regret. And so the bottom line is that Al Qaeda was able to carry out 9/11 because as an organization, they grew and prospers in capability led by Osama bin Laden. Had bin Laden been taken out, it is doubtful that 9/11 would have happened, at least on September 11th of 2001, because Al Qaeda would not have been in the position to be able to carry something like that out."

Todd: So you're not blaming 9/11 on Bill Clinton?

Rubio: “No, he made a decision not to take out its leader, which I think ended up being there, the situation that happened with 9/11. And as this was a response to an attack, that the reason why 9/11 happened was because of George W. Bush. And my argument is, if you're going to ascribe blame, don't blame George W. Bush, blame a decision that was made years earlier, not to take out bin Laden when the opportunity presented itself."

Todd: “So I'm actually still not quite clear. Are you putting 9/11 on Bill Clinton?

Rubio: “No, I'm putting it on his decision not to take out bin Laden, absolutely. This is what happens when you have a chance to take out the leader of a terrorist organization, and you failed to do so. And the results are something like 9/11.

[Last modified: Sunday, February 14, 2016 4:33pm]


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