The group behind CPAC—the nation’s favored gathering for white conservatives who want to take a selfie with a GOP candidate—today issued a statement calling Marco Rubio’s decision to skip the annual mutual admiration conference a “rookie move.”

Though the American Conservative Union, which released the statement, says Rubio is “unwilling to make time to meet with activists and answer their questions,” it’s not clear that he’s officially decided to skip the event. His campaign has said only that his March schedule is still undecided.

Still, the ACU makes it clear it won’t tolerate Rubio’s unwillingness to kiss the ring, pointing out that other GOP luminaries like Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Carly Fiorina will be there.

Although, Marco Rubio has built a conservative record and has a high ACU rating, he and his campaign have made a rookie mistake. Today the Rubio campaign informed ACU’s chairman that their candidate is unwilling to make time to meet with activists and answer their questions at CPAC 2016. Sen. Rubio cannot have it both ways: he cannot hope to be the inspirational leader of conservatives and at the same time hide at the very moments when activists who compose the heart and soul of the movement assemble and organize. For 43 years CPAC has been that critical moment, and in this year’s conference will be the biggest yet. Ronald Reagan came to CPAC 13 times; he launched his national political career from CPAC and our theme this year comes from President Reagan’s first public address after his 1980 election. That theme is ‘Our Time is Now.’ Reagan’s words ring even truer today than when Reagan first said them. If we do not carry the country in 2016 America will be a different nation. But if conservatives are not central to the effort we will fail before we even begin. We also appreciate those candidates and former candidates who have made CPAC 2016 a priority: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson, Scott Walker and Carly Fiorina (our former Foundation Chair.) They honor Reagan’s legacy and they honor the thousands of conservative activists who will spend significant resources to travel to CPAC to learn, be inspired, and eventually vote in our straw poll for the person they want to carry the Reagan torch.

For context on the importance of the CPAC straw poll, Rand Paul has won for the last three years.

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