1. Opinion

Ruth: Suddenly shy Marco Rubio needs more than a new Tampa office

Shauna Johnson, in black sweater, a member of Sen. Marco Rubio’s staff, meets with members of the activist group Indivisble Fl-13 at the St. Petersburg Library branch on Ninth Avenue N. Rubio’s staff is still looking for a new local office.
Shauna Johnson, in black sweater, a member of Sen. Marco Rubio’s staff, meets with members of the activist group Indivisble Fl-13 at the St. Petersburg Library branch on Ninth Avenue N. Rubio’s staff is still looking for a new local office.
Published Apr. 7, 2017

We'll probably need Sarah McLachlan warbling a few bars of Angel to get through this public service announcement in support of "The Marco Rubio Rescue" organization.

Won't you please help find our poor, beleaguered and homeless junior senator a new Tampa office? Just a few pennies a day could make all the difference.

You'll recall Rubio was evicted from his Kennedy Boulevard digs some weeks ago after his landlord grew weary of almost daily demonstrations by grumpy protestors outside the building. It seems the activists were annoyed that their elected representative had refused to meet with them or show up at a town hall meeting so that the very people who had voted him into a cushy job as a United States senator could ask him to explain himself on issues such as health care, immigration, climate change and his relationship to President Donald Trump.

Instead Rubio went into seclusion, even fudging an excuse that he couldn't possibly meet with his constituents because his wise counsel and brilliant grasp of the affairs of the day was urgently required in Europe, where no doubt Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel doesn't order a bratwurst without first consulting with the senator.

That alibi might have worked, too, had not Rubio been spotted running around Miami after his staff had claimed he was whispering into the ears of NATO.

And so the crowds and the anger only grew as citizens of Tampa demanded an audience with their suddenly shy senator, who clearly had the courage of a thousand Elmer Fudds.

After Rubio got the bum's rush from this Tampa office (he was shown the door in Jacksonville, too) the senator's much put-upon local staffers have had to resort to meeting with constituents at libraries and coffee shops, a situation that may last a while since the senator is having a hard time finding new lodgings.

To be sure, securing new office space is complicated by rising rents and landlords worrying about providing the appropriate security measures for Rubio's staffers.

But this is an embarrassing problem, largely of Marco Rubio's own making.

All Rubio had to do was his job in the first place by making himself available to listen to the public instead of cooking up phony excuses as too busy to perform the most elementary part of his job — constituent service. The reason his Kennedy Boulevard office became such a focal and vocal point of attention was simply because a sitting United States senator did not have the common courtesy, nor courage of his own convictions, to meet face-to-face with people who might disagree with him.

The senator whined he wasn't interested in subjecting himself to the possible jeers and boos from the public although being called an idiot is an inherent part of the job description. And if he is going to be this thin-skinned about criticism, perhaps Rubio might consider an alternative career as a hermit.

As well, the fretting about security for Rubio's office seems a bit contrived.

For example, I recently had occasion to visit the Armenia Avenue office of Tampa Congresswoman Kathy Castor. There were no beefy security guards protecting the building, no locked access, no "Get Smart"-like maze of gates, barricades and doors and no problem dealing with one of Castor's helpful assistants. In short, it was no big deal, as it shouldn't be.

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Many other elected officials who make up Florida's congressional delegation — Republican and Democrat — have met with constituents in various town hall meeting settings without fear for their safety, although a few egos might have been bruised.

And yet the only one who has been evicted from his local office has been Marco Rubio, R-Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

The senator certainly needs to find a new Tampa office. More importantly, he also is in dire need of a pair of big boy pants.


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