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Rubio: Now not time for political ‘bickering’ over Puerto Rico

Avoids Trump fight with San Juan mayor<br>
Sen. Marco Rubio on Face the Nation, Oct. 1, 2017
Sen. Marco Rubio on Face the Nation, Oct. 1, 2017
Published Oct. 1, 2017
Updated Oct. 1, 2017

Sen. Marco Rubio on Sunday sidestepped the controversy created by President Donald Trump’s attacks on the mayor of San Juan and instead continued to warn about a deepening crisis in Puerto Rico.

“Speaking of the government, the president has been quite critical of the mayor of San Juan. What do you make of that?” Face the Nation host John Dickerson asked of Rubio.

“I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it to be honest with you because right now, having lived through four hurricanes, nothing like what Puerto Rico’s facing, you know, our desire is to be a voice and a force for positive results, helping people,” Rubio replied.

“I truly believe that if we don’t get ahead of the curve there bad things are going to happen. Some have already happened unfortunately. Because storms are terrible things. Especially in an area like Puerto Rico where people have been without electricity now for over a week. A food issue, et cetera. But I do think every minute we spend in the political realm bickering with one another over who’s doing what, or who’s wrong, or who didn’t do right is a minute of energy and time that we’re not spending trying to get the response right. And so I think when this is all said and done we’re going to have time to stop, and look back, and say, ‘Should things have been done differently?’ I think everyone involved in the response has things they could have done better.

“But right now I hope we’ll stay 100% focused on what needs to be done to get the people of Puerto Rico help. And then we’ll have plenty of time in the future to have these debates about who didn’t do the right thing or what could have been done better.”

Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer was decidedly more critical. “The president, instead of tweeting against the mayor of San Juan, who’s watching her people die and just made a plea for help, ought to roll up his sleeves and get to work here,” Schumer said on the same program. “The bottom line is at least for the first week and a half, the effort has been slow-footed, disorganized and not adequate.”

Rubio also expressed doubt that the Cuban government does not know about the sonic attacks on American diplomats in Havana.

“Cuba is one of the most tightly controlled and monitored society in the world. Anyone who’s interacted Cuba, been to Cuba, or has anything to do with Cuba understands that very little happens in Havana that the Cuban government doesn’t know about, especially Americans working for the State Department,” he said. “So the idea that over 20 Americans working for the State Department, working for the U.S. embassy could be severely injured in Cuba and the Cuban government not know anything about it is ridiculous.”