WASHINGTON — He has been called out by grieving students and trolled in the air and on the ground. In return he's blasted the news media while trying to navigate one of the most polarizing issues in politics.
The Parkland tragedy has put Sen. Marco Rubio in the spotlight over comments he's made about gun laws and the significant financial support he's received from the NRA, more than $3 million in contributions to his campaigns or through outside groups.
Rubio has pushed back while also seeking a response to the tragedy, indicating Sunday he supports "red flag" legislation at a state level that aims to prevent violent people from obtaining guns. He's also talked of improving the background check process.
That came after Rubio stirred backlash for a speech on the Senate floor in which he expressed doubts about the effectiveness of new guns laws.
"I'm trying to be clear and honest here, if someone's decided I'm going to commit this crime, they will find a way to get the gun to do it," Rubio said Thursday. "That doesn't mean you shouldn't have a law to make it harder; it just means understand, to be honest, it isn't going to stop this from happening."
Rubio went on Twitter to blast characterizations of his speech.
On Face of the Nation, Parkland student Cameron Kasky said it was Rubio's job to figure out what will work.
"It's not our job to tell you, Senator Rubio, how to protect us," Kasky said. "The fact that we even have to do this is appalling. Our job is to go to school, learn and not take a bullet. You need to figure this out. That's why you were unfortunately elected. Your job is to protect us and our blood is on your hands."
Rubio will appear on CNN's Wednesday town hall about the school massacre, where he'll surely be asked about support from the NRA and his A+ rating.
Meantime, critics intend to keep up the pressure.