COLUMBIA, S.C. – Sen. Marco Rubio missed the Conservative Review convention on Thursday night in South Carolina because he was working with pollster Frank Luntz to prepare for a Fox News broadcast, according to Rubio surrogate Sen. Tim Scott.
As Breitbart News reported, Rubio was slated to speak at the convention, but canceled five minutes before he was supposed to go on stage in front of the enthusiastically pro-Trump, pro-Cruz, and pro-Carson crowd. Rep. Louie Gohmert slammed Rubio on amnesty just before Rubio was supposed to talk.
Scott said on The Mike Gallagher radio show Friday that Rubio got stuck in traffic after participating in a focus group with pollster Frank Luntz, a major Rubio cheerleader who has been the subject of a series of devastating Breitbart News reports concerning his past working relationship with Rubio, which he never disclosed.
‘The traffic coming into Greenville last night was challenging to say the least,” Scott said. “Marco had two events almost at the exact same time, one focus group to be broadcast live on Fox News with Frank Luntz, the other was the CR convention.”
“Trey Gowdy and I showed up to do our introductions, and the fact of the matter is that the Rubio bus got to the Frank Luntz event late, so they moved [Ben] Carson’s [appearance] forward, moved Rubio back, so they put him at the same time at the Luntz focus group to be aired at the Fox News … at the same time as the CR” convention, he said.
Conference organizers “were not allowing any surrogates to speak, so that’s what happened. Honestly that is just the clear truth.”
“Like, literally, I was watching the traffic and I was trying to get to the event or the hotel the Westin Hotel for the Frank Luntz event first myself. To go less than half a mile took over 15 minutes.”
“According to the Conservative Review itself … he is the seventh most conservative senator … we’re not talking about Marco Rubio being afraid to attend an event with conservatives.”
The Westin Poinsett hotel in Greenville is only seven-tenths of one mile away from the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, where the Conservative Review convention was being held.
A Conservative Review spokeswoman told Breitbart News that Rubio was scheduled to speak at 8 p.m. and sent former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) to the event, as well as several campaign staffers. Gowdy was supposed to introduce him.
Moments before he was set to take the stage, the spokeswoman said, Rubio’s team informed the Conservative Review team he would be late. The Conservative Review team offered to adjust the schedule, and do whatever it took to accommodate Rubio so he could speak with the conservatives gathered there. Rubio eventually ended up not showing up at all.
Rubio’s campaign is arguing that it sent Gowdy and Scott and Jindal as surrogates to the event, but the rule from Conservative Review which were set months ago said campaigns couldn’t send surrogates unless the candidate himself came.
The campaign of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, for instance, asked to send a surrogate instead of Bush because he was doing the CNN Town Hall on the same evening. Conservative Review refused his request.
To be consistent with the Conservative Review’s rules, the organization also refused Rubio’s surrogates Jindal, Gowdy and Scott, the spokeswoman said. If Rubio had actually showed up, though, the surrogates would have been allowed to introduce him.
Conservative Review convention moderator Mark Levin slammed Rubio for missing his convention, saying the move was “pretty damn rude.”
Matthew Boyle contributed to this report