Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. was listed as an "honored guest" at Saturday night's Lincoln Day fundraiser for the Miami-Dade Republican Party. Nearly 600 people attended the $150-a-person fundraiser, now in its 64th year.
Problem was, Rubio wasn't there, and had plans to be elsewhere. He was a few miles away at Books and Books in Coral Gables, signing copies of his new memoir "An American Son." It was the first leg of a book tour that will take him throughout Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia.
His absence irritated one local Republican, Jack Thompson of Coral Gables.
"I don't understand why Marco Rubio would use his name to get people to come, and then not show up," Thompson said. "Is Marco about Marco? Or is Marco about the Republican Party. What's going on here?"
Rubio appeared in a video message. Rep. Allen West, who's running in a Palm Beach County-based congressional district, was the main speaker. The event also drew Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
"It was an extremely successful event and nearly 600 enthusiastic Republicans were in attendance," said Ben Powell, the party chairman. "Senator Rubio was unable to attend the event but it is not unusual for someone of Senator Rubio’s stature to have scheduling conflicts and Miami-Dade Republicans certainly understand that."
Rubio was the keynote speaker last year, Powell said, and their attendees "were more than pleased with his video address to the gathering" this year.
Rubio's office said the senator had long been committed to book tour events, which were planned to coincide with the Fourth of July congressional recess.