Rubio: ‘Politicization’ of Flint water crisis ‘unfair’

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News

Flint’s water crisis had a short moment in the spotlight at Thursday’s Republican presidential debate, and it brought a rare moment of support for embattled Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.

A single question on Flint went to Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and focused on the seeming failure of the national GOP to make the city’s lead-contaminated water an issue during the campaign.

“What happened in Flint was a terrible thing,” Rubio said. “It was a systemic breakdown at every level of government ...”

In a move that drew applause from the Republican crowd, Rubio then turned his attention to the manner in which the Flint crisis has become a partisan issue. The Fox News moderator noted Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have made a campaign issue of it, and they will debate Sunday in Flint.

“The politicization of it, I think, is unfair because I don’t think someone woke up one morning and said ‘Let’s figure out a way to poison the water system’ ...,” Rubio said.

“I give the governor credit. He took responsibility for what happened, and he’s talked about people being held responsible.

“It should not be a partisan issue. The way the Democrats have tried to turn this into a partisan issue — that somehow Republicans woke up in the morning and decided … it’s a good idea to poison some kids with lead — it’s absurd. It’s outrageous. It isn’t true.”

Several dozen residents from Flint were outside the Fox Theatre before the debate to bring their message against the Snyder administration, which has admitted that a failure to apply corrosion controls to river water in Flint resulted in lead-contaminated drinking water.

“Arrest Snyder now!” and “Hey hey, ho ho. Snyder’s got to go!” were a few of the chants.

Many of those who made the trip walked the snowy street with signs that read “Flint Lives Matter” and “Fix Flint Now.”

jlynch@detroitnews.com

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