Presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) addressed and responded to questions from members of a coalition of major nationwide business groups in a TeleForum Nov. 3. Rubio answered questions from members of ABC, Associated General Contractors, Business-Industry Political Action Committee, National Association of Manufacturers, National Federation of Independent Business and National Retail Federation.

Sen. Rubio responded to a question on the skilled-worker shortage from ABC’s 2015 National Chair Pamela Volm by saying that society needs to “stop stigmatizing that kind of work. We’ve for too long told young Americans that people who work with their hands are people not smart enough to go to college. And that just isn’t true…We do have a shortage of people in these fields, and we have a higher education and education system that just isn’t producing the workforce.”

In a news release sent after the TeleForum, ABC President and CEO Michael Bellaman said:
“Our 21,000 members are affected by policies stemming from the executive branch on a daily basis and will rally behind the candidate who will provide the best opportunity for economic growth and a fair and level playing field for merit shop contractors. The construction industry is largely reliant on the health of the larger economy, and greater economic growth means more work for ABC members and more construction jobs across the country. Our industry faces a long list of challenges including the highest effective tax rate of any industry, a burdensome regulatory environment, a shortage of appropriately skilled workers and the constant challenge of obtaining affordable health care coverage for their employees amid rising costs,” said Bellaman. “ABC was founded on our members’ commitment to free enterprise, and we appreciate the opportunity to hear Sen. Rubio’s plan for economic growth and a less burdensome business environment directly from the Senator.

The 2016 election cycle marks the third consecutive presidential campaign cycle in which candidates have addressed and responded to questions from ABC members.

Sen. Rubio is the first presidential candidate to accept the coalition of business groups’ invitation to address and answer questions from its members. The other candidates invited to speak with the groups are (in alphabetical order):
  • Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush
  • Dr. Ben Carson
  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
  • Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina
  • Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee
  • Ohio Gov. John Kasich
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
  • Businessman Donald Trump
The candidates qualified for the initial invitation by maintaining at least four percent in the Real Clear Politics average of polls during the period starting from the first GOP debate and ending on Labor Day. Should additional candidates average at least four percent for a 30-day time period prior to the start of voting, an invitation to participate will be sent to them.