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Fox News "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace" - Transcript

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CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace. Will Mitt Romney ask one of his party's young stars to be his running mate?

(MUSIC)

WALLACE: He's viewed as a vice presidential short-lister to close the gap with Hispanic, help win Florida and promote a bold foreign policy. We'll talk policy and politics with Senator Marco Rubio. It's a "Fox News Sunday" exclusive.

Then, six months before the Election Day, the economic recovery remains uncertain. We'll ask our Sunday panel what the latest jobless numbers mean for President Obama's reelection bid.

And our power player of the week takes us behind the scenes of "Jeopardy!".
All right now on "Fox News Sunday."

(MUSIC)

WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.

President Obama officially launched his reelection bid this weekend.

With Mitt Romney, the presumptive nominee, we wanted to discuss the economy and key foreign policy issues with a man many Republicans want to see as Romney's running mate, Florida Senator Marco Rubio. He joins us now from Miami.

And, Senator, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.: Good morning.

WALLACE: President Obama kicked off his campaign this week saying that voters face a choice between his agenda of reform and the old Republican agenda. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This time, they want bigger tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. This time, they want even deeper cuts to things like education and Medicare.

And now after a long and spirited primary, Republicans in Congress have found a nominee for president who's promised to rubber stamp this agenda if he gets the chance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Senator, in fact, Romney has endorsed the House budget which does call for tax cuts for the wealthy and more spending cuts for programs for the poor and middle class.

RUBIO: Well, this president doesn't have a budget and neither does Congress -- neither does the Senate, for example, hasn't produced a budget.

But, look, this campaign is very simple. It's not a difficult one to understand. This president asked us to hire him four years ago on the promise that he knew how to fix this economy and that he would be different, that he would unite this country. That's the standard we should judge him by, the standard that he set.
The economy is worse off. The debt is $5 trillion higher and he's become increasingly divisive. In fact, this president's rhetoric today quite frankly is just like anybody else in Washington. All of the things that made him different and special four years ago are gone, and now, all he does is run dividing Americans against each other, obviously, because he can't run on his record.

WALLACE: But he says that he inherited a mess -- I know it's become an old phrase. But then he inherited a mess, his programs are working, yes, more slowly than he thought they would, and the Republican agenda is the one that would take us back to the mess.

RUBIO: Well, of course, that's what he's saying. But the facts are something different. They did inherit a very difficult economic climate and he knew that when he was elected. But one of the reasons why he won is because he told the American people he knew how to fix it.

He's run up a $5 trillion debt and you have more people since 1981 that are either underemployed, unemployed or have stopped looking for work. You just saw the jobs report on Friday, they are abysmal. Things have not gotten better.
And let's not forget that for the first two years of his presidency, his parties control both chambers of Congress, he could have had anything he wanted. He got those things -- the health care bill, for example, and stimulus, and things keep getting worse under his watch.

He is accountable for that. And so, obviously, he doesn't want to run on that record, so he wants this campaign to about anything but his record on the economy.

WALLACE: The Romney camp responded to the president's speech yesterday with a new video attacking the president's record on the economy. Let's take a first look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The real question --

NARRATOR: Job creation number small for the third straight month.

OBAMA: -- it's not just about how we are doing today, but how we'll be doing tomorrow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Romney says that job growth should be 500,000 jobs a month and not 115,000 it was in last month and that the unemployment rate should be 4 percent, not the 8.1 percent it was last month. But here are couple of statistics, Senator -- the fact is that this country has achieved 500,000 growth only two months in the last 20 years. And in fact, as governor of Massachusetts, Romney never had four percent unemployment.

RUBIO: Well, first of all, we want a president with high expectations. We want a president that understands that the way things are now are not acceptable and that we have to make them better.

Second, I think the steeper your fall has been, in essence, the steeper recession is, the faster and the sharper the recovery should be. And I think that's what Governor Mitt Romney is talking about, and rightfully so.

Look, I have faith -- there's nothing wrong with the American people. And the American people are the backbone of this economy. They haven't run out of good ideas, they haven't run out of ideas for businesses they want to open. American people haven't forgotten how to create jobs.

But they do need a government whose policies make it easier for them to do these things, not harder. And if you look at the president's record over the last 3 1/2 years, it is a record of policies that make it harder for Americans to start a business or grow an existing business and thereby create new jobs.

And so, I'm glad that we have a nominee who has high expectations for the American economy because the American people have high expectations for the American economy.

WALLACE: When you say that the president's policies make it harder to start a new business or hire people, give me two examples where you think, the Obama policy would make it harder and Romney would make it easier.

RUBIO: Sure. Well, first of all, the president has run up a $5 trillion debt, which creates tremendous worry about the future. People look at that and say, OK, this is a country that's running up massive debts. They are destined for a massive tax increases to pay it off. That scares people from investing in the American economy. And without investment money, how are you going to open a business or grow an existing one.

The second thing is uncertainty about the tax code. You have a president that constantly goes around the country using the tax code as a weapon for class warfare, dividing Americans against each other, constantly looking for -- he thinks the solution to every problem the nation faces is some sort of tax increase on somebody.

The third is a regulatory environment. Just the health care law alone is an endless stream of regulations that scare people. So, if you are a small business person, you are afraid to hire employees because you have no idea how much it's going to cost you to comply with the health care law.

Those are just three stark examples that I didn't make them up, that I'm hearing from real people here in Florida that are afraid of hiring people or starting a new business because of things directly attributable to this president and his administration.

WALLACE: Senator, let's turn to the other big story this week, and that is the case of the Chinese dissident Chen who the government there now says can apply for a travel permit to go to the United States to study.

Before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton worked out this apparent deal with the Beijing government, Romney weighed in and here's what he had to say about the Chen case and what at that point seemed to be the fact that he had been turned over to the Chinese without any protection.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY , R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is a dark day of freedom. And it's a day of shame for the Obama administration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Question: Did Governor Romney overreact in the middle of the diplomatic crisis?

RUBIO: No, I don't think so. First of all, I think this crisis is a reminder of what we are dealing with in China. And we hope that there are reformers in that government that are pushing for a more open system. But what we know for a fact we are dealing with now are people that are paranoid and are control freaks and a totalitarian system. I mean, they control everything from the words you can search on the Internet, to who gets to visit when he was in jail -- I'm sorry, in the hospital.

And so, these are the things that we are dealing with. This is a reminder of that.
Secondly, there's this propensity that this administration seems to have of an unwillingness to forcefully assert America's values. We've seen that in a number of occasions. Tragically, we saw that in 2009 during the green revolution in Iran. And we see that again here now, in China, where somehow this administration looked almost reluctant to forcefully assert the United States defense of human rights and the principles of human rights -- of respect for human rights, democracy, freedom, et cetera.

So, I think that is troubling. I'm not sure why this administration has this propensity to feel reluctant to strongly assert America's principles. We should be proud of those values and principles that made the world a better place.

WALLACE: The Obama administration also this week has played up and understandably, the president's decision to launch the raid to kill Osama bin Laden. And Vice President Biden suggests that Mitt Romney might not have made the same call.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Thanks to President Obama, bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive. You have to ask yourself, had Governor Romney been president, could he have used the same slogan in reverse?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Two questions. First of all, is that fair game in politics? And, secondly, Senator, what do you think of Joe Biden especially when it comes to foreign policy?

RUBIO: Well, Joe Biden's record on foreign policy is one of being wrong on everything that he's ever advised or everything he's ever asked for -- from dividing Iraq, to admittedly telling the president not to go in and do this operation.

That being said, I also think he is a very nice person but Vice President Biden has the tendency to say some interesting things to say the least.

Now, let me focus on this issue of bin Laden for a moment. That was a very proud day for all Americans. Our armed forces did a phenomenal job and the president made an important and wise decision, and he has gotten his due credit and rightfully so for making that decision.

But now, he's taken it further. He has taken something that should unite the American people, a moment for pride for our country, and instead turned it into a weapon for political warfare.

RUBIO: And I think that's wrong. I really do. I think it's wrong for the president and for the vice president to take this issue and use it for politics.

And it goes back to the point I've tried to make earlier. When this president ran for office in 2008, he said he was going to be different. He was going to be a post-partisan uniter to bring Americans together. And three and half years later, the president has become just like anybody else in Washington, D.C.

And in his obsessive effort to win his reelection, he has lost himself and he has lost what makes him different. And this issue of how they've used the bin Laden raid is one example about how his administration has become just like everybody else.

WALLACE: You are a member of the both the Senate Foreign Relations and the Senate Intelligence Committee. So, I want to do a lightning round -- and I emphasize quick questions and answers --

RUBIO: OK.

WALLACE: -- in a number of foreign hot spots.

Let's start with Iran. You said we should pursue a dual track on one hand and propose sanctions and keeping up on the possibility of negotiations, while on the other hand also preparing for a possible military strike. Isn't that exactly what President Obama is doing?

RUBIO: Well, I think that the tactics are one thing. The attitudes towards the tactics are another. For example, I am concerned that the president and his administration has put too much faith in the negotiation route, in particular success in these negotiation are deemed a willingness to continue to negotiate. I mean, it's not an indefinite period of time.

But I think, generally, the track that I've outlined is one that people have built a consensus around. And when I raised that point on Iran, by the way, I didn't raise as a criticism of the administration. I raised as an observation of the right way to handle it.

But I do think that we need to do a better job of beginning to prepare our allies in the world for the reality that, at the end of the day, if negotiations and sanctions don't work, there will be a need for military action, because what we cannot tolerate, and I think the world would agree, what we cannot tolerate is a nuclear Iran.

WALLACE: You say we should continue foreign aid, as you put it, as a cost effective way to advance our values and interest. Romney is on the record as saying we should cut foreign aid by $100 million. Is he wrong?

RUBIO: Well, I think, first of all, he is looking for efficiencies in the budget, and rightfully so. I mean, it's is never a good time to spend more money than we have. And it's never a good time to waste money.

On the other hand, I do think we have aid improvements to the Millennium Challenge grants and other methodologies to ensure that the money is getting to those recipients.

So, I would make the forceful case to Governor Romney foreign aid actually gives us leverages and allows us to spread our vision throughout the world. I think he made an observation from a budgetary perspective. But at the end of the day, I don't -- I think that we can make a very compelling argument that there are places around the world where without foreign aid, the U.S. would not have the kind of leverage or influence that we would want to have in those regions that are important to our national security.

WALLACE: Richard Grenell, a respected foreign policy spokesman who is openly gay, resigned from the Romney camp after he was not allowed to talk to reporters because of opposition from social conservatives. What does that say about tolerance? Tolerance --

RUBIO: Well, first of all --

WALLACE: If I may finish, just about tolerance --

RUBIO: Yes.

WALLACE: -- both in the Romney campaign and in the Republican Party.

RUBIO: Well, first of all, Mr. Grenell, who I don't know him, nor the circumstances of his hiring -- but my understanding is that he had left the campaign on his own volition. That it was his decision to leave the campaign.

WALLACE: But in fairness, this was after he had set up a conference call and then he was told by the campaign, we don't want you to talk because there was so much concern from the social conservatives about the fact that they'd hired a gay -- and we should point out, Grenell had been the spokesman for the U.S. mission, the United States ambassador to the United Nations for years.

RUBIO: Well, I don't know Mr. Grenell. I don't know the circumstances behind his hiring. And obviously, I think the campaign has responded to that, and certainly, I'm sure they would respond to you if you ask them on it. I'm just not familiar with it.

But what I can tell you, what I have seen in the public statements is that Governor Romney says that they hire people based on their merit and their qualifications, and their ability to do the job. And as I've seen them publicly state, that leaving the campaign was a decision he made. He was not asked to do that.

WALLACE: But on the bigger issue, Senator, and this was one of the points that Obama made yesterday, President Obama made in his speech yesterday -- he says the Republicans and Romney will take this country back when it comes to gay rights, when it comes to birth control, when it comes to abortion?

RUBIO: Well, once again, I mean, there's been differences of opinion between the parties on these issues. For example, on the issue of life -- yes, the Republican Party, by and large -- although there is diversity in the Republican Party on the life issue. In essence, there are such as a thing as pro-choice Republicans. There are very pro-life Democrats that are certainly tolerated within in the mainstream of the Democratic Party. So think that's important to point out.

On that issue, there's actually more tolerance in the Republican Party. That being said, I'm proud of the fact that the Republican Party is the pro-life party on the issue of life.

On the other issues that you've raised -- I don't know anything about a contraception debate. I keep hearing about that. I do know about a religious liberty's debate that we had in this country, about whether the federal government should have the power to force a religious institution -- in this case the Catholic Church -- to have to pay for something that the church teaches against, so that issue was about.

I understand the president turned it into a contraception issue, because it ties back to this strategy of his administration. He doesn't want to run on his record. Instead they are in search of an issue that they can divide the American people on.

And that's wrong. That's not what he ran as. I remember the speech in 2004 when he spoke to John Kerry's nominating convention. And he said there wasn't a red America or a blue America, there was a United States of America. Whatever happened to that Barack Obama?

The president we have today is a typical Washington politician that's prone to hyperbole and decisiveness and false outrage. And I think it's very sad -- very sad to watch.

WALLACE: Senator, I want to move on to a couple of more specific issues. You propose a scaled back version of the DREAM Act which would allow children of illegal immigrants to get visas if they are either attending college or serving military and allow them to stay in the country while applying for permanent residency. Isn't that -- I mean I understand the scale back -- but isn't still a form of amnesty?

RUBIO: No, because, first of all, we don't create any special pathways. We use the existing immigration system to deal with a humanitarian issue. And that is these children who entered this country illegally or have overstayed visas illegally, through no fault of their own. These are children, they follow their parents. The parents put them in this predicament.

Now, they've grown up here. They are ingrained into our culture and our society. We spent public dollars to educate them and they have much to contribute to our future.

The case of the young girl here in Florida who is the valedictorian of her high school, who's been accepted to Dartmouth to study molecular biology, and yet has a deportation order. I think most Americans would say that's crazy to deport someone like that.

So, we use the existing immigration system. We give them a non- immigrant visa, which we do now for people that we're allowing to stay here legally and study and work. And at some point in the future, if they decide they want to stay here permanently, as I suspect most of them will, they will be able to do so but they'll to avail themselves of the existing system.

WALLACE: But if it's a --

RUBIO: Existing visas, not a special one like the DREAM Act.

WALLACE: Senator, if it's such a good idea, and some analysts says you're helping also to throw a life line to Mitt Romney that he could use to win back Hispanic voters after the very strong anti- illegal immigration positions that he took, all he'll say is he's studying it.

RUBIO: Well, it's impossible to ask him or anyone for that matter to take a firm position on a bill that hasn't been filed yet. We still -- we've only discussed this in concept. We still don't have a piece of legislation with the details on it.

But the other thing I would say, and I think this is really important -- the vast majority and overwhelming majority of the Hispanics in the United States are here illegally and don't have an immigration problem nor does their family. And to somehow some folks suggest that the Hispanic community is in favor of illegal immigration. That's wrong as well.

Now, the fact of the matter is that if you are in Hispanic community, you probably know someone or have a family member that's been deeply impacted by the illegal immigration problem. And so, you are sensitive and compassionate to that. That's why I think it's so important that the Republican Party be clear about the things that we are for.

And that's what Governor Romney is doing. He is for a legal immigration system that works.

And if we have an illegal immigration system that works, the illegal immigration problem becomes easier to deal with and becomes much less complicated.
WALLACE: Senator, we got less than five minutes left. I want to go through a bunch of issues with you.

RUBIO: Yes.

WALLACE: Whether you like it or not -- and you know I was going to get to this -- you are widely considered perhaps the front runner to be Mitt Romney's running mate in the fall election. So, let's deal with that.

You are 41. You say you look 35. Honestly, do you think that you have the experience, the experience to be a heartbeat away from the presidency in?

RUBIO: Well, Chris, as I've said, I'm not going to discuss the vice presidency. I'm not going to -- Governor Romney has a process in place. And I'm going to respect that.

I'm more than happy to tell you I am qualified to serve in the United States Senate, however, and that people can take from that what they want.

Obviously, I have a experience first of all at local government where I served a year and a half. Then I served in state government for nine years. Eight of those nine years in leadership, I was majority whip, a majority leader, the speaker designate on the Florida House, and then I was the speaker of the Florida House for two year. I have now served a year and a half, close to a year and a half in the United States Senate.

So, that's my record. I mean, I'm certainly not the most experienced person in Washington D.C. But by the same token, I certainly have experience in serving in government and particularly in the legislative branch in one of the largest states and more complex states in the country in terms of public policy.
And the good news is that every day that goes by, I gain more experience on those things.

But I would also say this -- there was a point of diminishing return on Washington experience, and what I've learned about Washington is that sometimes, if you're there too long, you start to believe that certain things are no longer possible.

RUBIO: If you are there too long, you start to become like the way the president has become -- divisive, cynical, given to hyperbole on these issues, also looking for an opportunity to pit Americans against each other in some sort of political calculation.

What made President Obama different in 2008 was he promised to unite America and talk above this kind of issues. He hasn't done that anymore.
WALLACE: Senator, you made --

RUBIO: Five minutes.

WALLACE: -- you have made that point.

I want to show you some polling numbers. Hispanics make up 46 percent of New Mexico's population, 27 percent in Nevada, 23 percent in Florida and 21 percent in Colorado. And right now, Obama leads Romney among Hispanic voters 67 percent to 27 percent.

As just a professional politician, can Romney win the presidency if Hispanics vote for Obama over him more than two-to-one?

RUBIO: Well, again, Chris, there is no such thing as the Hispanic vote. I mean, it's as diverse as the country is. I'll give you an example. My cousin is the Democratic leader of the state Senate in Nevada. And yet we come from the same family, same background, same shared experience.

So, some of it depends on where you grew up and where you live and what the politics of the place you live in is. So, Cuban Americans in New Jersey are Democrats. Cuban Americans in Miami tend to be Republicans. I mean, there's a great diversity --

WALLACE: That brings up two points, though. One, you would agree, though, that he can't win the presidency if he loses Hispanics to Obama by more than two-to-one, wouldn't you?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, every state is different. He's not going to lose Hispanic two-to-one in Florida. In fact, I think he has an opportunity to win Hispanics in Florida. I think he has the opportunity in other parts of the country to make a very compelling case.

Look, while there is no such thing as the Hispanic vote, there are some things that unify the Hispanic community. Chief among them is an economic aspiration. They want to do better for themselves and they want to leave their children better off than themselves.

And I think if you look at the Obama record, it is not upward mobility. It is a record of record job losses and record unemployment, people dropping out of the job search. Hispanics have been disproportionately affected by the Obama administration's, you know, bad policies with regards to the economy.

On the other hand, the American free enterprise system, which is what Mitt Romney is campaigning on, that's the only economic system in the history of the world that allows people to climb out of the circumstances of their birth and live their children better off that themselves. That's a very compelling argument to make to all Americans and especially Americans of Hispanic descent.

WALLACE: Finally, Senator Rubio, will you do whatever Mitt Romney asks, whatever Mitt Romney asks to help him beat Barack Obama?

RUBIO: That's a clever question, Chris.

I want to be as helpful as I can be to this -- to our nominee who is going to be the next president of the United States. And the good news is, we have a deep bench of folks in the Republican Party, governors and newly elected senators and some folks that have been around for a while. We have a good team of people that can go across this country and sell Governor Romney's message. And that's why I'm comfortable that he's going to win this election in November.

WALLACE: When you say helpful as you can be -- and look, I understand you are not campaigning for it. I understand the idea that, you know, you want to respect the process, and I believe you when you say you don't want to be the choice this time.

Having said that -- if Mitt Romney comes to you and says, "I need you to help me beat Barack Obama," you -- I mean, given your feelings about this country, about your red, white and blue patriotism, you're not going to say no to that.

RUBIO: Chris, that's -- I know you were going to try one more time. But I'm not going to talk about the vice presidential process. But I can tell you that there are multiple ways that someone can help our nominee and I look forward to doing that. I hope I did that here today.

WALLACE: Senator Rubio, we want to thank you so much for joining us today, and we'll see what role you end up flying in this campaign. Thank you, sir.

RUBIO: Thank you.

WALLACE: Up next, President Obama officially launches his run for reelection. But the economic news is not good. We'll ask our Sunday group about the political battle over how to create jobs.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT


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