Since the 2016 presidential campaign trail began for Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, the two senators had notably been absent on Capitol Hill lately, having missed the third highest and highest number of U.S. Senate votes in 2015, respectively. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid found Rubio’s attendance so lacking that he went so far as to suggest that the Senate resign his seat. The heavy lack of attendance to the Capitol was surprisingly interrupted by, surprisingly, North Korea’s current leader, Kim Jong-un.
A vote on the sanctioning of North Korea and its current dictator yanked Cruz and Rubio off the campaign trail and onto the Senate floor on Wednesday. When asked why he diverted from his campaign trail to vote on this issue, Cruz replied that, “the national security threat is serious.” Rubio’s aide, Alex Burgos, made an extra effort to wave off reporters as his boss entered the Senate Wednesday evening. When asked why he wanted to vote, Rubio, while entering the Senate floor, replied, “it’s an important issue.”
The legislation on the North Korea issue is obviously important to national security, and if the two Senators had to pick something to eventually vote for, this one is definitely one of the more important ones. However, one factor as to why the two decided to come back, is to avoid looking weak. A presidential candidate should look strong on matters of national security, and an opposing senator in the race could have attacked in an upcoming debate or on the campaign trail for not voting on an important matter of national security. There’s nothing wrong with this—strategy is obviously needed in a presidential election. However, it’s the duty of a U.S. Senator to vote on these issues, whether it affects their poll numbers or not.