Let's break down the pros and cons of his latest line of reasoning.
On one hand, the freshman Florida senator is right. Congress is really gridlocked. Polarization -- between and within parties -- plus a divided government in a divisive election year are all reasons why the legislative action isn't on Capitol Hill, nor has it been for awhile. Just ask President Obama, who has also apparently given up on Congress in favor of executive actions on gun control, immigration and climate change.
Also, as we've pointed out before, Rubio is not the first -- nor will he be the last -- lawmaker running for president to spend more time campaigning than legislating. The Fix's Philip Bump noted in May that Barack Obama had one of the worst all-time Senate voting records, mostly since he was in the Senate for such a short period of time before campaigning for a full year nonstop.
But Bump also found in October that Rubio's vote-missing is exceptional compared to his other Senate colleagues running for president. And not all of his votes missed came while he was campaigning. More than a quarter came before he was even a candidate:
Which brings us to the other hand: Rubio throwing his current employer under the bus so publicly and unequivocally rings of hypocrisy.
When the state lawmaker campaigned for Senate back in 2010 as a tea party star and foil to the GOP establishment, he pitched his candidacy for Congress as nothing short of transformative. "We are not debating stimulus bills or tax codes,” he told adoring voters. “We are debating the essence of what government should be and what role it should play.”
Five years later, Rubio is now basically saying none of that matters. The implication is that he was wrong about trying to fix our nation from within the halls of Congress; instead, he's discovered the White House is the place to do it.
Another damaging interpretation of Rubio's latest line of reasoning could be that he campaigned on making the Senate better. Now, he thinks it's basically inoperable and unfixable. His opponents and critics are thus invited to ask what that says about his leadership capabilities and work ethic. The Sun-Sentinel editorial board would rather him resign than continue to go on about how Congress is broken.
And it requires some political back-bending for Rubio to celebrate endorsements from his colleagues in Congress while bashing the institution itself.
There's a third hand, though -- one that arguably makes everything above politically moot. And that is: Does it really matter to primary voters whether Rubio is right or wrong about Congress being a place to effect change?
His base most likely isn't a fan of Congress -- in fact, most Republicans and most Americans aren't. But the anti-Washington sentiment is especially strong among Republicans. A November Gallup survey found that Republicans approve of the Republican-led Congress in lower numbers than Democrats and independents do.
Rubio might figure he can score political points by throwing that most hated institution in Washington under the bus, similar to how Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) earned enthusiastic applause in an October CNBC when he answered a question about the debt ceiling by bashing the media.
As we're reminded nearly every day in this election cycle, being as far away from Washington as you can is a winning playbook for Republicans on the campaign trail, no matter the logic behind it. And politically, Rubio might have just found his best answer to giving up on the Senate.