Flanked by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R) during an appearance at the Summit at the Americas in Lima, Peru, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R) mixed it up with Cuban government-control news outlet Granma when their reporter brought up the $3 million in NRA support his past campaigns have received from the group.
Rubio has never received $3 million from the NRA or any group. The dollar amount in question was money spent by the NRA in support of Rubio’s candidacies, something that was completely out of the senator’s control. Rubio did however receive $9,000 in direct donations from the NRA.
The contentious exchange started by Granma reporter Sergio Gomez asking Rubio if he would continue to accept money from the gun lobby.
SERGIO GOMEZ: The central theme of the summit is the fight against corruption. I wonder if the influence lobbyists hold on politicians was in the agenda, specifically the NRA from whom you’ve received more than $3 million. What do you say to your voters from Lima? Will you continue to accept money from that organization? What do you say to the Parkland victims?
MARCO RUBIO: Where are you from? What news outlet?
GOMEZ: Sergio Gomez, from Cuba. Granma newspaper.
RUBIO: Which one?
Realizing who he was answering, Rubio pivoted to the plight of the Cuban and Venezuelan people, telling the reporter that he was “glad” he could come to the summit and “freely express himself.”
RUBIO: I’m glad you can come here and freely express yourself and I welcome you. I think this is important because I am willing to answer questions in an open forum where you can have discrepancies. There are people in my country that don’t agree with how the Second Amendment of the Constitution is interpreted. Those people who are in disagreement with my stance on this issue have the right to vote against me. Even though I won the elections, in my country, those individuals who disagree with me on that topic can vote against me. Millions voted against me, but millions more voted in my favor. That’s my greatest desire. My wish is that Cuba, Venezuela and every country who has differences can decide them in the polls. Not through violence, not through illegitimate political movements. That’s what I wish. At the end of the day I think that in a free society, those who have disagreements with a political stance can vote against that politician. In five years, I will have to run again.
GOMEZ: Will you continue accepting the money? It’s a direct question.
RUBIO: It’s simple. In the United States, in comparison to Cuba, we have a free press. The press can question and criticize me all they want, and they do so daily. I’m glad we’re able to hold a debate, because in Cuba you can’t have a debate. The answer is that in the U.S. the people know my stance. We also have transparency on who donates and who doesn’t. Yes, I support the Second Amendment and those people who support that Amendment support me. Those who don’t support it can vote against me. I wish you could also do that in Cuba, because you can’t.
Rubio has been the most outspoken critics of the Castro and Maduro regimes in Cuba and Venezuela. The junior senator from Florida continues to receive police and Secret Service protection after a viable threat against his life was made by elements within the Venezuelan government.