Marco Rubio Ducks The Donald Trump Question

This blog was originally published on Forbes as Marco Rubio Ducks The Donald Trump Question on Monday, July 13, 2015.

Ever since Donald Trump made his controversial statement about Mexicans during his announcement of his intention to seek the Republican Party nomination for president, his poll numbers have surged. Despite angry backlash from the Hispanic community, dismissals from his sponsors, dismay from Republicans and derision from Democrats, Mr. Trump has jumped from the back of the pack of 16 candidates to seventh place in the aggregate RCP poll and as high as second in two other polls. He is now challenging veteran front runners Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul and, particularly, Marco Rubio. One might expect that, as a Hispanic, Mr. Rubio, would have a point of view on the controversy.

Last Tuesday, Neil Cavuto, the Fox News anchor, sought Mr. Rubio’s point of view during an interview on Fox Business: “Donald Trump has [said]…that you can’t be half-hearted when it comes to going after illegals. He’s all but claimed that you are, how do you answer that?”

Well first of all what happened in San Francisco is a horrible tragedy, and our heart goes out to that family—it’s such a horrible incident. Irrespective at the beginning of who did it, it’s just a terrible tragedy and our heart breaks for that family. That individual, that criminal responsible for that act, had been deported on four separate occasions and each time snuck back in, and it is absolutely true that we have a border and illegal immigration issue that’s very serious. I talked about that repeatedly, I have tried to pass bills to address it, I will continue to work to try to address it.

The question was about Mr. Trump’s claim that Mr. Rubio was soft on illegal immigrants and his answer did not address that, so Mr. Cavuto asked again:  “Were you troubled that Trump keeps saying this stuff about you? What do you feel about that—is he being fair to you?”

Well, here’s the problem. The problem is that border security is a very legitimate issue. Illegal immigration is a very serious issue. What’s happened now is he’s made some other comments that are less responsible, and those comments are now what everyone’s focused on, you know, I think the bottom line is the issue is that we’re sort of let off the hook, all of these people who don’t want to have a debate about illegal immigration, they want to focus on Trump’s comments about, you know, Mexicans.

Again, the answer did not address the question about Mr. Rubio’s performance, so Mr. Cavuto, looking for a counter, broadened the issue:  “Do you think he’s hurting the party, Senator?”

I think the comments he has made—not about the party—I think the comments he’s made has allowed people who don’t want to have a debate or to talk about illegal immigration to distract from the very serious debate on hand and that is this: we have a broken legal immigration system…

Again, not an answer to the question asked.

In my prior Forbes blog, you read about how Chris Christie, Mr. Rubio’s other competitor for the Republican candidacy, recently also ducked a question from a reporter—another example of the widely-tolerated practice of a politician not answering a question.  As usual, the numbed electorate rolls its collective eyes and moves on.

This practice is unacceptable in business and private lives, how much longer will we continue to tolerate it in politics?

This blog was originally published on Forbes as Marco Rubio Ducks The Donald Trump Question on Monday, July 13, 2015.