Elections

Sanders: Senate votes are what I’m paid to do

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a town hall meeting at William Penn University, Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Oskaloosa, Iowa.
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a town hall meeting at William Penn University, Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Oskaloosa, Iowa. AP

U.S. senators running for president often miss a lot of Senate votes. (See Marco Rubio for the 2016 version and Barack Obama for the 2008 edition) But they’re not Bernie Sanders.

The Vermont senator has missed just 4 percent of Senate votes, compared to 42 percent for Rubio, MSNBC calculated -- and Sanders says he doesn’t like to miss any.

“That's kind of what I'm paid to do,” Sanders told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday. He added that he would miss votes, but said “I'm trying to miss as few as I possibly can.

“I am extraordinarily proud to represent my great state in the Senate,” Sanders said. “We’re working very hard on a number of issues. And while it is difficult and very time-consuming to be a full-time candidate and to be a full-time senator, that is at the moment what I'm trying to do.”

Indeed, the interview was taped just before Sanders left for the airport, Mitchell said, telling Sanders “I don't want you to miss your plane because I know you’re heading back for some votes.”

It’s questionable how much voters care about missed votes and Rubio, R-Fla., used the dust up over missed votes to smack his rival, former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush, at last week’s Republican debate.

“Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term, and you should be showing up to work,” Bush said. “I mean, literally, the Senate – what is it, like a French work week? You get, like, three days where you have to show up? You can campaign, or just resign and let someone else take the job.”

Rubio was ready for the criticism, noting that Bush didn’t criticize 2008 GOP nominee John McCain for missed votes.

“The only reason why you’re doing it now is because we’re running for the same position, and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you,” he said.

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