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CBS "Face the Nation" - Transcript

Interview

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BOB SCHIEFFER: Good morning again and welcome to FACE THE NATION. We're going straight to Miami and Marco Rubio, the Republican nominee for Senate in Florida. Mister Rubio, thanks for coming. Most people who fly-- follow politics know you took on Florida's popular incumbent Republican Governor Charlie Crist in the primary for the Republican Senate nomination. Before it was over he had left the party as you went up in the polls. He's now
running as an independent. Let me just ask you first, do you think of yourself as a Tea Party candidate?

MARCO RUBIO (R-Florida/Candidate for U.S. Senate): Well, first, good morning and thank you for having me on your program. I don't think anybody can make that claim about themselves because to do that you'd have to-- you'd have a fundamental misunderstanding of what the Tea Party movement is. I think the biggest mistake being made by those who follow politics is they're trying to understand what's happening across our country through a traditional political lens, you know how you would view the Republican Party or the Democrat Party. The Tea Party movement is an expression of what I think is a mainstream widespread sentiment in America
that Washington is broken, that both parties are to blame, and that people want to elect folks that are going to go to Washington, DC, number one and do what they say they're going to do primarily stand up for the agenda that's coming from there and offer some clear alternatives that embrace the things that make America exceptional. So for example, Americans believe in the free enterprise system. They understand that it makes us the most prosperous people in human history. And they don't want to want-- they don't want to walk away from it.

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): All--

MARCO RUBIO: And so, I think the widespread sentiment is that we don't want to change America. We want to fix the things that are wrong in America. And the Tea Party movement is an expression of that sentiment.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well what is it? Because you have said, over and over, you're coming here to challenge Republicans and Democrats. What in your view have the Republicans done wrong?

MARCO RUBIO: Well, remember the Republicans had a majority in Washington for the better part of ten to twelve years. And they didn't fulfill some of the promises they had made in '94, when they were elected. You know things like a balance budget amendment, things like banning
earmarks, things like term limits. These are fundamental things among others that people are looking for from Washington. If you say you're going to do that and you get elected then do it. There's got to be some level of accountability. And unfortunately, politics today are full of people
that think they can say or do anything because once they get elected they think they'll raise so much money they can make you forget.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, you come from a state and are running in a state where a lot of folks are on social security. Do you believe that it's time to privatize social security? Has it outrun its usefulness?

MARCO RUBIO: No. I do not believe it should be privatized. And I don't believe it's outlived its usefulness. On the contrary, I think social security it's an extremely important program and it should be preserved and saved. I view full social security through the eyes of--of two people--my four children and my mom. My mom is a beneficiary of social security. She turns eighty this
year. It is her primary source of income. Without its existence her life would be very hard and very difficult. I to think social security faces some long-term challenges that need to be confronted because I want to see three things happen. Number one, I don't want to see any benefit reductions or changes for current retirees or people close to retirement. And at number two, I want to see social security survive for me, my generation and my children's generation as well. And, number three, I want to ensure that the long-term problems in social security don't bankrupt our country.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, what do you do to keep it from bankrupting the country, because you're saying-- you seem-- seem like you want to keep it just like it is but-- but-- you want to fix it. What is it--

MARCO RUBIO (overlapping): Well--

BOB SCHIEFFER: --that you do?

MARCO RUBIO: No, Bob. I mean, I-- what I-- I say we want to keep it how it is for current beneficiaries because these are folks that have paid into the system given certain assurances of what the system is going to look like. Younger workers like myself, people thirty-nine years of age like I am, we're going to have to accept that there's going to be some changes to social
security. And perhaps they're going to have to change the way the benefit is indexed. Perhaps we're going to have to continue to-- to allow the retirement age to fluctuate as it has been doing since the early 1980s. But again, that's for younger workers like myself, who have twenty or thirty years to prepare for this. People that are on the system now or let's say ten years from retirement or twelve years from retirement, these folks can't all of a sudden make a change to adjust for it. So I think we have to start talking honestly about the long-term challenges facing a very important program social security because we want to save it. It's important and we want to
preserve it.

BOB SCHIEFFER: A lot of the Tea Party folk around the country talk about Arizona's new immigration law. And they'd like to see that modeled in-- in every state. This is the law, of course, that allows the police officers if they stop someone for another offense to check their citizenship.

MARCO RUBIO: Yeah.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I think when you first heard about this law passing, you said it would create a police state. What's your take on-- on the immigration laws? Should we have something like the Arizona law?

MARCO RUBIO: Well, three things. Number one, Arizona legislature actually has changed the law after it first passed and prohibited things like stopping people because of ethnic profiling. And I think that was a positive change. Number two, I think we need to recognize that states like Arizona, California, Texas and a few others-- New Mexico are in a very unique situation. Arizona
has a huge open border basically with a country in Mexico that has an all-out drug war. And Arizona is not seeing the immigration challenges of that but the security challenges of that. The public safety challenges of that. So we have to understand why Arizona did this. And they have a Tenth Amendment right to have done it. I've continued to say that the Arizona law should not
be a model for the rest of the country. It should be a wake-up call to the federal government to once and for all take the issue of immigration seriously, particularly things like border security and the need for E-Verify system.

BOB SCHIEFFER: O--

MARCO RUBIO: If the federal government had been doing its job on immigration there never would have been an Arizona law.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this finally. You preach fiscal responsibility but your opponents say you don't live it. They say you've been deeply in debt for much of your life. They say you have sometimes put your own personal expenses on your Republican Party credit card. How do you answer those critics?

MARCO RUBIO: They're false. The Republican Party of Florida has never paid for my personal expenses. And as far as in debt is concerned-- you know what they call debt--a mortgage. Yes, I bought a home using a mortgage. I bought two homes one here and one in Tallahassee using a mortgage. The vast majority of Americans watching this program would be shocked to learn that buying a home with a mortgage is somehow irresponsible. And the o-- and the other debt that I have is a student loan. My parents worked very hard but they couldn't save enough money to send me to law school. So I had borrowed money and I paid my student loans. But it provided me my education. I think my opponents say that because they're wrong on the ideas. They have absolutely no ideas on the critic issues facing our country, so they want to make personal attacks against me the centerpiece of their campaign. But this election is too important, because at stake is the very identity of our country. Are we going to remain exceptional or are we going
to conti-- or are-- or we going to become like everybody else? Americans want to remain exceptional. And they're looking for candidates that will fight for that.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Thank you very much, Mister Rubio, for those insights this morning.

MARCO RUBIO (overlapping): Thank you.

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