News & Election Videos

Interview With Florida Senatorial Candidate Marco Rubio

Neil Cavuto



Date: March 30, 2011>

Time: 16:00:00>

Tran: 033002cb.140>


Head: Interview With Florida Senatorial Candidate Marco Rubio>

Sect: News; Domestic>

Byline: Neil Cavuto>

Guest: Marco Rubio>

Spec: Libya; Moammar Gadhafi; Violence; Protests; Military; Secret

Service; Economy; Budget; Republican Party; Marco Rubio; Senate;

Government; Florida; Elections; Politics>

Time: 16:15:00>

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Getting kicked for not wanting to kick the can down the road.Republican Senator Marco Rubio telling the world today why he will not -- not -- vote to raise the debt ceiling later this month without real reforms to entitlements. News blogs immediately, immediately, just as he predicted in the piece, calling it bad timing.

This Washington Post writer saying there is no time left to get something this big done.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio here to say the timing has never been better.

By the way, fair and balanced, we called 53 Democratic senators to respond to Senator Rubio's call to action. So far, no one has responded, but not a single has said it has anything to do with my deodorant or me.

All right.


CAVUTO: So, Senator, you predicted in the column today, but they don't seem very receptive to the things you're talking about.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Well, that is why we are in trouble, because the people have been running this place for the last, I don't know, it seems like 2,000 years or whatever are not serious about these issues.

It is time to deal with this once and for all. You know who I feel bad for? I feel bad for the kids that are in school right now and the young people all across America who don't realize that the grownups who are supposed to be running this country are the verge of leaving them as the first generation of Americans worse off than the generation before.

It's time to deal with these issues once and for all. This is our last chance to probably deal with it before the next election.

CAVUTO: Senator, I want to get your reaction to something Chuck Schumer said thinking his microphone wasn't on that sort of played into this notion that maybe Democrats are trying to force you guys, that is Republicans, into a corner. I want you to listen to this and react.


SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: I always use the word extreme. That's what the caucus instructed me to do the other week -- extreme cuts and all these riders. And Boehner's in a box. But if he supports the Tea Party, there's going to inevitably be a shutdown. What we are trying to do here...


CAVUTO: All right. What he is effectively saying is, John Boehner, the speaker, is in a box, because, on the one side, he has got Tea Partiers who are urging aggressive cuts, others saying, we can't get quite to the level to satisfy them and the government shuts down.

You're saying, if the government has to shut down, so be it, right?

RUBIO: Well, I don't want the government to shut down.

And let me tell if it does why it is. It's because, when they were in charge, when the Democrats had the House, the Senate and the White House, which was just a few months ago, they didn't pass a budget. We are still talking about the 2011 budget because they didn't pass one.

In fact, even as I speak to you right now, Senate Democrats have yet to pass a budget. How are you going to have a negotiation with the House if you have not even passed the budget as their starting point for a negotiation? So, that is the first thing I would say. The second thing I would say is, we have a government that spends money it doesn't have. We have a government that borrows $4 billion a day. We have a government that owes trillions of dollars in debt, half of that to foreigners, most of that to Chinese investors. I don't -- that is extreme. Not only is it extreme. It's insane and it's unsustainable.

CAVUTO: These writes and commentators today are saying, a lot of what you wrote and you have said makes perfect sense. You cannot do it in just the days that you want to commit before this, you know, whole temporary spending measure dies down, and the government could be shutting down on April 8. So, having said that, Senator, if you get cuts in the $60 billion to $61 billion, $65 billion, closer to what Republicans want, would that be enough get your vote to at least get the government spent through the rest of the fiscal year?

RUBIO: Well, those are two separate issues.

As far as finishing out the rest of this year, I would like us to pass a budget the House has already passed. I voted for it once. I will vote for it again. I think that should be the starting point.

If the Democrats in the Senate have a different idea about how to finish the year out in spending, then why don't they pass a budget, so we can -- so that negotiation can begin?

A separate issue, the one I wrote about today in the op-ed, is about the debt limit debate. And on that issue, I do believe we have time. You know why? Because none of these ideas are new. They have all been around for a while. We are not lacking in time or ideas. We're only lacking...


CAVUTO: Yes, but the debt limit -- the debt limit clock is almost exactly timed with that government shutdown clock, right?

RUBIO: OK. So let's start working on it today. Why isn't anybody in this building working on it right how? What are we waiting for? We know there will be a balanced budget plan out tomorrow or the day after that's a consensus plan by Republicans.

Why don't we use that as a starting point? We know what it takes to do some regulatory reform, some tax simplification. Let's start dealing with -- let's start talking about how we will save Social Security and Medicare. None of these issues are not new. They didn't just come up last week. These things have been around a long time. It was the central focus of the campaign that just finished.

What are these guys working on? What else are they working on right now? What is more important than this?

CAVUTO: All right. Stay tuned there. We want to stick around with you, Senator.

But, in the meantime, we are getting word of protests that are turning very violent in Syria. As this uprising keeps spreading, we keep hearing more calls to cut off all foreign aid. And this is particularly nasty. What does Senator Marco Rubio think of that? Cut off all aid? Go in as have in Libya? What?


CAVUTO: Hard to keep track of this stuff. This is Syria, and protests getting very ugly today, as the Syrian president addressing his nation to calm down the uprisings. Now more calls to stop all foreign aid right now, before we are knee-deep with a bunch of just awful guys.

Back with me, rising GOP star Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

Senator, are we risking that, with whatever your views on Libya, getting very involved in a lot of crises that ain't pretty?

RUBIO: Well, every country is different.

The bottom line, we should always act in the best national -- in our national interests in every situation. The bottom line is, Moammar Gadhafi is a thug, he's a bad guy, he's an enemy of the United States responsible for the murder of 100 some-odd Americans in the Lockerbie bombing. And then he bragged about it. He's been around for years.

Finally, the Libyan people got tired of him. And they stood up and they're trying to get rid of him.


CAVUTO: Yes, but there are a lot of thugs, Senator. I mean...


CAVUTO: ... company. RUBIO: Yes. That's true. And every country is different. In some places, we can have an influence. In some places, we can't.

I'm just saying that, if we can have an influence, we should try to have an influence. And in Libya, we can have an influence. We're seeing that happen already. And the president was right...


CAVUTO: So, you are for what -- you are for what the president is trying to do there?

RUBIO: Well, I wish he would have done it a little bit sooner, because if he had...

CAVUTO: Right.

RUBIO: ... this thing would have moved a lot more predictably at a lot lower cost, and -- but the result is, the president was right when he determined that Moammar Gadhafi must go. And you know what? The people of Libya agree with him.

And I think we should continue to degrade his ability to attack and kill civilians.


RUBIO: And you're seeing the impact it's having in the region. Look what is happening in Syria now, which is a state sponsor of terrorism and a puppet state to Iran.

CAVUTO: But, you know, there's also you got to be careful what you wish for, right, Senator?

We're getting reports of a lot of Al Qaeda elements within those rebel forces that now we are apparently willing to fund. And if these reports from Reuters are right, we have now authorized covert government support for.

That can be a problem, right?

RUBIO: Well, obviously, that could be a potential problem.

But the reality of it is, number one, as far as -- as far as the political wing of the rebels are concerned, there is no evidence of Al Qaeda presence there. We have to monitor that very closely. Number two, that is why we have to be engaged with them, because if we are not engaged, that creates a vacuum that Al Qaeda could step into.

And, number three, some sort of protracted conflict creates the kind of chaos that Al Qaeda can step into. But the reality of it is that that is why it is important that we remain engaged with the Libyan rebels, who by and large are people that are not associated -- they're not associated with Al Qaeda for the most part, from what we have seen. But we need to continue to monitor that.

CAVUTO: You know, Senator, I spoke not long ago with your freshman colleague Rand Paul and his dad, Ron Paul, the in House. Neither are big fans of the way we dole out foreign aid, period, that it always comes back to bite us.

Ron Paul going so far as to say, just stop it, all of it. What do you say?

RUBIO: Well, we have a disagreement on that.

I think the United States has political interests in the Middle East. We spend a lot of money and a lot of time and, quite frankly, lost a lot of likes because of conflicts in that region that impact our national security. The reality of it is that it is to the benefit of the world and to the United States for the Libyan people to throw Moammar Gadhafi out and to have a peace-loving government in place in that nation.

I think the same is true, hopefully, in Syria and even in Iran. Now, all these countries are different. And what we can do in these countries depends on which country we are talking about.

CAVUTO: But we are broke. You just said we got to get hopping on all these spending issues and all. So the virtue and the stance is very admirable, but beggars can't be victors, can they?

RUBIO: Well, ultimately, I would say we will spend money on the Middle East one way or another.

And if we allow these rogue regimes, like Syria, to continue...


CAVUTO: Why? Why is that a given, Senator?

RUBIO: Well, for example, because Syria sponsors terrorism, because they actively, on a daily basis, try to undermine our national security and our national interests. So does Iran. I mean, we have spent countless amounts of dollars on Iran. And Iran has all kinds of proxy wars going on throughout the region as they try to strike at our national interests. Libya is a country we have been engaged against now 25 or 30 years.

CAVUTO: But would you give money to Saudi Arabia? Or would you give money to Kuwait? We are giving foreign aid to them, not a ransom. But, to me, Senator, it always seemed like giving a billionaire a Denny's coupon. He's going to look at it and say, well, thanks, I guess.

But, you know, isn't that kind of silly?

RUBIO: Well -- to give foreign aid?

CAVUTO: Well, to countries that are this rich.

RUBIO: Well, again, the United States always has to act in its national interests.

And there is a national interest in the United States being involved at level in this region and with many of these countries. Now, obviously, the money has to be well-spent. It needs to be monitored. We always -- it always have to justify itself. But I would say that foreign aid serves our national interest. And, by the way, foreign aid is not the reason why we are running trillions of dollars in debt.

Our debt problem, by and large, is in three major entitlement programs that we need to reform if we want to save them. And I do want to save them.

CAVUTO: Well, you're right about that to the penny there.

And when you brought that out -- I remember very well in the campaign, Senator, when your opponent really pilloried you on that issue when you wanted just to address Social Security. And, of course, it was as if you were taking food out of the plates of the elderly and what have you.

Be that as it may, you know that third rail. You know what it is like. And when push comes to shove, and -- and Republicans have to put pencil to paper and programs to the cutting block, or trimming block, that could be a real problem, right?

RUBIO: Well, I'm not talking about trimming the programs for current retirees. I don't want to change anything for people that are on the system now.

CAVUTO: Yes. You said, nothing for your mother. Maybe for you decades away.

RUBIO: Well, here -- it's very simple. People that are current retirees...

CAVUTO: What about for me? Like, what about for me in between you and your mother? You know what I'm saying?

RUBIO: Well, how old are you? If you tell me how old you are, I can tell you.



CAVUTO: But you know what I'm saying? That's what -- I talk to lot of people in their 50s, late 40s, Congressman.


CAVUTO: You're in your 30s -- who are saying -- Senator, I'm sorry -- who are saying, hey, hey, hey, you know, what is the cutoff point over which a Marco Rubio is going to say, you have got to sacrifice?

RUBIO: Well, a couple things.

The closer you are to retirement, if you're in retirement, the less change there will be. But here's what I would tell people of my generation. I turn 40 this year. This isn't going to be a Social Security. This isn't going to be a Medicare when you retire.

Forget about what your benefit is going to look like. There isn't going to be one if we don't make some reforms to save that program now. That means no changes for current beneficiaries or people nearing retirement. You have worked hard. You have paid into the system based on a certain set of promises. And we need to keep that.

But younger people, people like myself that are decades away from retirement, there isn't going to be a Medicare system if we don't make changes and reforms to it now that save the program. I want to save the program. The people that are saying do nothing, what they're really saying is, let the programs go broke.

CAVUTO: Interesting.

All right, you got it out of me, Senator. I am 30.


CAVUTO: But, seriously, thank you very much.

Marco Rubio...

RUBIO: Thank you.

CAVUTO: ... you always speak your mind. And we appreciate it. Thank you very much.

RUBIO: Thank you for having me.

CAVUTO: Be well, Florida Senator Marco Rubio.



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