Rubio pulls out of televised debate to be with ailing father

Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio (R) has pulled out of Sunday's "Meet the Press" debate, citing the deteriorating health of his father.

"Unfortunately, the health of Marco’s father, Mario Rubio, has significantly deteriorated in the last 48 hours. As a result, Marco plans to stay with his father and family during this time, and will be unable to participate in this Sunday’s debate on Meet The Press," a campaign spokesman said in a statement.

Rubio's father is 83 years old and suffers from emphysema and lung cancer, according to the statement.

"We have informed both NBC and Kendrick Meek’s campaign about our need to reschedule this debate, and appreciate their understanding and kind words for the Rubio family during this difficult period."

Gov. Charlie Crist had earlier declined NBC's invitation to participate in the debate.

Crist, who's running as an independent, has agreed to participate in only one debate on Oct. 24 in St. Petersburg. Rubio and Meek, meanwhile, have agreed to four other debates.