When I saw this “can’t cut it” quote yesterday, I tweeted about it and Rubio’s spokesman, Alex Conant, e-mailed me this statement, categorically saying that the Rubio aide had been misrepresented by the author of the New Yorker piece, Ryan Lizza:
We objected to the New Yorker using the quote because the aide was describing some industries’ response to unions’ opposition to temporary workers — he was not describing Senator Rubio’s position, which is that American workers can compete with anyone, and we need these programs to fill labor shortages in specific industries like agriculture.
I tweeted at Ryan Lizza if he would provide more context for the quote. He did, and here it is:
RL: Well their argument [presumably the unions’] is, what, that they have American workers for these jobs, they don’t need this program.
Rubio Aide 1: Yeah. I mean, one of the problems you have with this, “Oh there’s American workers who are unemployed.” There are American workers who, for lack of a better term, can’t cut it. There shouldn’t be a presumption that every American worker is a star performer. There are people who just can’t get it, can’t do it, don’t want to do it. And so you can’t obviously discuss that publicly because. . .
Rubio Aide 2: But the same is true for the high-skilled workers.
Rubio Aide 1: Yes, and the same is true across every sector, in government, in everything.
I have e-mailed Alex Conant for further comment.
UPDATE: Here’s Conant:
Hey Rich — I’m fully aware of the full context of the quote, and what I told you yesterday was the truth. When asked about the unions’ arguments in their negotiations with the Chamber, the aide described some industries’ response. We asked the New Yorker to add the Senator’s position to the piece, but they declined.