Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioApple under pressure to unlock Pensacola shooter's phones Senators offer bill to create alternatives to Huawei in 5G tech Surging Sanders draws fresh scrutiny ahead of debate MORE credited an unlikely lawmaker when discussing Veterans Affairs issues at Thursday night's GOP debate: Democratic presidential candidate Bernie SandersBernie SandersNYT editorial board endorses Warren, Klobuchar for Democratic nomination for president Trump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Biden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina 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.
 
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"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 TrumpTrump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Trump administration planning to crack down on 'birth tourism': report George Conway on Trump adding Dershowitz, Starr to legal team: 'Hard to see how either could help' MORE leading by double digits, while others find a tighter race between the front-runner and Rubio.