Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioColbert: Students taking action on gun violence 'give me hope' Lawmakers feel pressure on guns Florida lawmaker's aide fired after claiming shooting survivors were 'actors' MORE credited an unlikely lawmaker when discussing Veterans Affairs issues at Thursday night's GOP debate: Democratic presidential candidate Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersDems ponder gender politics of 2020 nominee 2020 Dem contenders travel to key primary states After Florida school shooting, vows for change but no clear path forward MORE

Rubio called for greater accountability of the VA and touted his work on a bill that grants the secretary of that department the authority to fire senior executives.
"One of the things I'm proudest of is that in my time in the U.S. Senate working with Jeff Miller here from Florida in a bipartisan way, and I'll give him credit — Bernie Sanders was a part of this — we passed a VA accountability bill," Rubio said at CNN’s debate in Miami, just five days ahead of the state’s critical winner-take-all primary.
"Since we passed that law, no one's been fired for outreach, no one's been fired for calls going to the voicemail, no one's been disciplined, no one's been demoted," Rubio said.
"When I'm president of the United States, if you work at the VA and you are not doing a good job, you will be fired from your job at the VA," he added.

At Thursday's debate, Rubio veered away from personal attacks and focused on a more policy-driven conversation.

The Florida senator is pinning all of his hopes on his home state as he seeks to prove that he is a viable alternative to Trump. 

Rubio has insisted that he will not drop out prior to the March 15 contest but has acknowledged that he needs a victory in order to continue to the nomination.

If Rubio fails to win Florida, there will be heightened pressure for him to drop out.

Some recent polls show Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out 'subversion' at VA MORE leading by double digits, while others find a tighter race between the front-runner and Rubio.