Sen. Marco Rubio defended accepting contributions from the National Rifle Association, telling a Parkland school shooting survivor that the NRA’s influence comes from the membership it represents.
“The influence of these groups comes not from money,” the Florida Republican said at CNN’s town hall “Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action” on Wednesday night in Sunrise, Florida. “The influence comes from the millions of people that agree with the agenda, the millions of Americans that support the NRA.”
Jeers from the crowd overwhelmed the discussion at several moments as Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Cameron Kasky pressed Rubio not to accept donations from the pre-eminent opponent of gun control legislation.
“The positions I hold on these issues of the Second Amendment, I’ve held since the day I entered office in the city of West Miami as an elected official,” Rubio said. “People buy into my agenda, and I do support the Second Amendment.”
When Kasky kept asking Rubio whether he would continue to accept the NRA’s contributions, the senator said that was the wrong way to look at it and that people “buy into” his agenda.
“In the name of 17 people, you cannot ask the NRA to keep their money out of your campaign?” Kasky asked.
Rubio said, “I think in the name of 17 people, I can pledge to you that I will support any law that will prevent a killer like this from getting a gun,” but he did not say he would refuse the NRA’s money.
“There’s money on both sides of every issue in America,” Rubio said. “I will always accept the help of anyone who agrees with my agenda.”
Rubio continued to say he would support raising the age from 18 to 21 for “buying a rifle,” and that he understood the NRA did not support that measure.
Earlier Wednesday, GOP Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona said he would sign on to a bill that would raise the age for people to buy AR-15 style weapons, which the NRA affirmed that it opposes.