Republican Sen. Marco Rubio explained Sunday why he hasn't been participating in town hall meetings, which, he said, were aimed only at allowing activists to "heckle and scream" at him and not at discussing ideas.
"They are not town halls anymore," Rubio, who was recently criticized by some for skipping town halls planned by Miami's chapter of the national Indivisible Movement, an anti-Trump group, told CBS4-Miami's Jim DeFede Sunday.
"And I wish they were because I enjoy that process very much," the Florida Republican said. "The problem now is, and it's all in writing, I'm not making this up, what these groups really want is for me to schedule a public forum, they then organize three, four, five, six hundred liberal activists in the two counties or wherever I am in the state."
The former GOP presidential candidate continued, "They spread themselves out. They ask questions. They all cheer when the questions are asked."
Rubio added that the activists are instructed to boo "no matter what answer I give."
"They are instructed to interrupt me if I go too long and start chanting things. Then, at the end, they are also told not to give up their microphone when they ask questions. It's all in writing in this indivisible document," he said, referring to the Invisible Movement. "These are real people. They are real liberal activists, and I respect their right to do it … But it is not a productive exercise. It's all designed to have news coverage at night that says look at all these angry people screaming at your senator."
Rubio explained he was not trying to avoid speaking out against ObamaCare. "I was elected on that platform. I was re-elected by a lot of votes on that platform, and that's what I intend to do … It would be unfair to the people that voted for me, many of whom voted for me because of my opposition to ObamaCare, to now suddenly vote like the person whom I beat and so that's what I intend to do."
Further talking about town halls, Rubio added, "If it was a productive engagement or conversation, that would be fine. I'd have no problem justifying my views on these issues. The problem is they are not designed to have a productive engagement. They are designed to basically heckle and scream at me in front of cameras so that Channel 4 and other networks and other stations at night will report."
Speaking on the Senate floor earlier this month, after Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, was "silenced," Rubio warned that "we are becoming a society incapable of having debate anymore."
"One of the great traditions of our nation is the ability to come forward and have debates," Rubio said. "But the founders and the framers and those who established the U.S. Senate and guided it for over two centuries understood that debate was impossible if matters became personal."
He added, "I don't know of a civilization in the history of the world that's been able to solve its problems when half the people in a country absolutely hate the other half of the people in that country."
Last March, when he suspended his campaign, Rubio said that it was not "God's plan" for him to become president but urged the conservative movement to focus on its strong Judeo Christian values.
"While it is not God's plan that I be president in 2016 or maybe ever, and while today my campaign is suspended, the fact that I've even come this far is evidence of how special America truly is, and all the reason more why we must do all we can to ensure that this nation remains a special place," Rubio said in his concession speech.