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BOB SCHIEFFER: --for joining us. Let's just start with the news. The President has given an interview to The Associated Press in which he describes Mitt Romney in the most scathing words yet. He says, "Romney has locked himself into extreme positions." He says, "He lacks serious ideas." He says, "He refuses to own up to the responsibilities of what it takes to be President and deals in factually dishonest arguments."
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Bob, I think it's important to set the facts straight first. And that, you know, obviously, this President was elected four years ago with a promise that he knew how to make things better. But things have not gotten better for millions of Americans. And so Barack Obama can't run by saying vote for me because things have gotten better. Vote for me because my ideas have worked. So I think you're going to see more and more of this type of rhetoric on his behalf because he really doesn't have anything else to run on.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Among the issues that the President says Mitt Romney has taken extreme positions on are these across-the-board tax cuts. He singles out opposition to tax credits for producers of wind energy. He said he's making it impossible for people to get into the middle class.
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Well, what grows the middle class and that's what I think Mitt Romney understands and Barack Obama does not is the creation of new businesses, and the starting of new businesses. That doesn't happen because of tax increases or some government program. That starts because somebody has the confidence and the money to invest in the American economy. So the job of government is to make it easier for people to do that. Right now people lack the confidence and in many cases lack the money. And the bottom line is that there is no tax increase that helps grow the economy. Now certainly you have to generate revenue for government, and that's why you want the economy to grow but tax increases don't help people start a business. It doesn't give people the confidence to go out and expand an existing business and create new jobs. That's how the middle class grows, not-- not through some government program.
BOB SCHIEFFER: The President also in this interview hit Mister Romney on abortion. He predicted that if a President Romney is elected, he would not stand in the way if Congress gave him a bill that stripped away women's control over their reproductive health. He's basing this on the party platform, which states opposition to abortion, but does not take into account any kind of exception.
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Well, I think what's important to understand, yes, Mitt Romney is pro-life and the Republican Party--although it has diversity on this issue--is the home of the pro-life movement in American politics so are growing number of Americans by the way; and there's an increasing amount of evidence from public polling that the highest number of Americans ever identify themselves as pro-life. And for those of us who are pro-life, like myself, this is not an issue about denying anyone rights. This is an issue about protecting the rights of a human being to live irrespective of what stage and development they may be. And so, I think that's what Mitt Romney and the Republican Party stand for. And I understand that America is divided on that issue. I understand that-- that there's people of good faith and goodwill, could have differences of opinions. But those of us who are pro-life believe strongly in the sanctity of life and that that life should be protected by our laws. And it's not about denying anyone rights, it's about protecting the right of human beings that have not yet been born.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think that's a good issue to be running a campaign on?
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Well, look, I don't think that's the issue that people wake up in the morning and it's the first thing on their minds on a daily basis but I think it's always an important issue. I mean life is a fundamental issue. It will always matter. And any-- in fact, it's in our Declaration Of Independence, one of the first right-- God-given rights that it delineates is the right of life and then of course liberty and pursuit-- and the pursuit of happiness. So, I think that's always will be a relevant issue. And I think it will always come up because of that. But I think we're capable of discussing the issue of life in an intellectually honest way that's true to our principles and at the same time make it very clear to the American people that we understand what it takes to grow the economy and that we have policies that actually make that happen.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, that's-- that's one of the things I want to talk to you about because this race seems to have turned from a referendum on President Obama in a bad economy to a referendum on Paul Ryan and Medicare. Is that a good strategy?
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Well, I'm not sure it's a referendum on Paul Ryan and-- and Medicare. I do think it's a referendum on whether we're willing to confront the big issues that our country faces or are we willing to let our children inherit our problems? And here's the bottom line for Medicare--I'll-- I'll speak for myself on this--I represent about three million people here in Florida that have Medicare. One of them is my mom eighty-three years old and I--I don't know what-- I can't imagine what her life would be like without Medicare. So I, on a personal level, but also as a senator from a state with so many people that are on Medicare, I want Medicare to be saved. And I want to do in a way that doesn't change Medicare at all for people that are currently on it, like my mom, but also ensures that it doesn't bankrupt itself so it exists when I retire. Paul Ryan is the only one in Congress together with Senator Wyden, because they worked together on this, that have come up with a serious plan to address it. Mitt Romney has a plan to address it. Where's the President's plan? Where's the Democrats' plan? So, yes, I think it's good for America to begin to talk about how do we save Medicare because anyone who is in favor of leaving Medicare the way it is right now is in favor of bankrupting it.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But just from the standpoint of politics, I mean, I've got to tell you, the Obama campaign seems delighted with this turn in the campaign. The President out this weekend saying, you know, I'm the one that's going to take care of Medicare, criticizing the Romney and all of that. They seem delighted that this is now a campaign about Medicare.
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Well, that tells-- well, that tells me two things. The first it tells me is they're not serious about solving the problem. It proves what I've been saying all along, and that is that for Barack Obama and many in the Democratic Party, this is not about saving Medicare. This is about how they can use Medicare as a political weapon in an election and I think that's sad.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, I mean it's about as close as it can get here in Florida right now, this race. Is Mitt Romney going to win Florida?
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: He is. He is going to win Florida and the reason why he's going to win Florida above everything else is because Florida is a state with a lot of people that irrespective of how they may feel about Barack Obama now were really excited about him in 2008. But I personally know people that have never voted for a Democrat who voted for him in 2008 because they loved what his candidacy said about America and they were hoping he would be some sort of a new figure in American politics that would elevate the political discourse and help our country move forward on the things we all agree on. Now, that Barack Obama is long gone. As I-- as I've said repeatedly hope and change has been replaced by divide and conquer. Even in this interview he gave with Mitt Romney today I mean that's not the same person that ran four years ago. And, look, I don't agree with Barack Obama on a lot of things but the one thing I knew back in 2008 when he was elected was that he had a very unique, perhaps the most unique opportunity ever of any modern American President to bring our nation together on high-minded things. He's decided to go in a very different direction and I-- I think that's going to disappoint a lot of people here in Florida and already has.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think the tone has-- has changed in?
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: I mean, you just need to look at some of these ads. I mean when you think about the President's allies have run in ad basically accusing Mitt Romney of being personally responsible for the death of some woman because she lost-- a poor lady who lost her health insurance. I mean that-- that-- that's just outrageous. They have accused him of being a felon, basically. They ran another ad that compared him to a vampire. I mean, so certainly, I think, that, yes, I mean I don't remember seeing any of those ads in 2008 from the Obama campaign. But I think we understand why. He can't run on his record. Look the fundamental question that every President has to answer is, am I better off-- are people better off today than they were four years ago. And he can't look at the American people with a straight face and say you are better off today than you were four years ago. So, he doesn't want it to be about that. So, that's why he is talking this way.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Friday, Mitt Romney made what he called a joke in his home state of Michigan. Here's what he said:
MITT ROMNEY: Oh, I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born. No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.
BOB SCHIEFFER: The Obama campaign immediately seized on this and said he's trying to associate himself with the most strident voices in the Republican Party, the birthers, Donald Trump and all of that. What's your take on that?
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Well, my take on it is that there is no debate in my mind about where the President was born and whether he is qualified to hold office on the basis of his birth. The President himself has joked about it. And-- and now, you know, obviously, we live in a political environment where we should be careful about everything we say. I can tell you I've heard Mitt Romney repeatedly address this issue and debunk it as a nonissue. Our quarrel with the President is not about his birth certificate. Our quarrel with the President is about an eight-hundred-billion-dollar stimulus that failed, about a debt that continues to grow.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Here we are on the eve of the Republican Convention, and there have been some distractions here. I mean you can't do anything about the weather. We all know that. But you know, you had this group of Republican congressmen that we now know about going swimming in the Sea of Galilee, some without their-- without their swimsuits and then this fellow comes along in this Senate race down in Missouri, Mister Akin, questioning whether people who are raped, if they have the ability to not get pregnant. Everybody I know of stature in the Republican Party has called on this guy to get out of the race, including Mitt Romney but he's still there. Should Mitt Romney take stronger steps to-- to tell this fellow to go find something else to do?
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: I think he has and others have as well, including Paul Ryan has called him. Here-- here's the thing, though, the decision is his to make. Ultimately, all we can do is inform someone in the position that he's in right now of what it means for our chances to win a seat that we should win, and what that means for the country. Because if Republicans get a majority in the Senate, this country will-- will be that much closer to getting things turned around. So that's where the stakes are. When you make comments like that, in addition to being offensive to people like myself and many others, they also hurt your chances of winning. And so I think he's been informed of that. Ultimately he has to make the decision he feels is right. But-- but I think everyone has informed him of what the political consequences of this are and have also publically stated how strongly they disagree with what he said, but he won the primary. It's-- he's going to have to make that decision. There is no way to force him out of it.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think if he stays in he could actually hurt the national ticket and hurt other Republicans by just drawing attention to this.
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Bob, the comment-- apart from the bigger issue of the politics nationally, I think ultimately the race is going to be decided on what Mitt Romney stands for and what he is going to do if he's elected versus what Barack Obama has done now that he is in the last four years. As far as that particular race is concerned, absolutely, I believe his statements make it much more difficult, borderline impossible, perhaps, for him to win that race, and it has been clearly communicated to him, both publicly and privately by a whole host of voices. So we'll see what decision he makes going forward.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Now you're going to introduce Governor Romney at the convention. How is that speech coming along? And give us a little insight into how-- how that works. Well-- what-- what will be the tone? What will be the line you will take care?
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: You know I think the-- the two things I think that will be clear by the end of this week is that this-- this election is not just a choice between two men or two political parties. It's literally a choice about which direction we want this country to go. Do we think that the way forward is for us to become more like the rest of the world or is the way forward for us to help the rest of the world become more like us, a nation that's bought into free enterprise. That believes that opportunity is created when people are given the confidence and the ability to go out and start businesses and grow existing businesses and then what can government do to help that happen. And so I think the stakes is important for people to understand what's at stake here. We're not just voting for the person we like more. We're also voting for two very different directions for our country. And in addition to that, I hope people understand who Mitt Romney is. Because his-- his business career has been well documented and his success is-- is extraordinary in the business realm, but he's so much more than that.
He was a successful governor. The job he did at the Olympics in Salt Lake City was extraordinary by all accounts. And then look at his personal life. This man is a personal role model to young men-- younger men like me, as a father, as a husband. You look how successful his family has been. Any-- everywhere that he has ever gone, whether in his church or his community, he has made it better using his talents and his time. I think Mitt Romney is a role model for-- for-- for-- for people like me and-- and I think that Mitt Romney as a person especially, and the kind of person we would all be proud for our kids to grow up and be like.
BOB SCHIEFFER: How-- how does this work? I know at some conventions in the past, the candidate staff has written a speech. Are-- do you-- will you tell them what's in the speech?
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: No.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Will they suggest things to you? How does that work?
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: You know, that's-- they actually have not asked me to say anything in particular other than understanding I'm going before Governor Romney. The, you know, usually I don't even write speeches. I-- I have general thoughts. But this one of course is a big one so I will. And I-- I write these myself for the most part with some help in terms of just getting it framed right. But-- but I usually want my own words to come through and I look forward to doing that. Look at-- my only wish is that my-- my dad and my grandfather were still around to see it. My mom is and has been and-- because I think in many ways that speech affirms that-- that what's made us great as a nation is not that we have the more rich people than anybody else but that it's a country where dreams that are impossible everywhere else are possible here.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me-- since you brought up your parents, of course they were immigrant, President Obama issued a directive that we would no longer deport the children of illegal aliens who were brought into this country as children. Governor Romney will not say whether he intends to repeal that, whether he intends to let it stay in place or what he intends to do about it if he's elected.
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Well, I can't speak for Governor Romney. In my opinion here-- here's my problem with it. First of all, to identify what the goal is. The goal is to help and accommodate these young people who find themselves here without documents, through no fault of their own, they were brought here as children, have grown up their entire lives and have so much to contribute to our future to help accommodate them but to do so in a way that doesn't encourage or reward illegal immigration in the future. And that's a difficult balancing act and we were working on something like that. And, unfortunately, the President, rather than helping us work on it, actually instructed some DREAM Act advocates to not work with us. I mean this was documented I believe in The Washington Post that-- that he met with the activists and said do not or his-- White House did, do not work with them on the solution. Instead they've come up with a stopgap solution. Let me tell you. We will never solve our broken legal immigration system and we will never be able to compassionately deal with the people in this country who are here in undocumented status as long as this issue is a political volleyball tossed between two parties who use it against each other to raise money and gain votes.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But-- but don't you think that the Governor owes it to the American people to tell them what he's going to do about this before he's elected?
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Well, I think what the Governor has basically said is what he's-- he starts by telling them what he's not going to do. That we're not going to do twelve million people amnesty. The DREAM Act as it's currently structured I do not support, neither does the Governor, neither do many Americans. What he does support is a legal immigration system that works. He has detailed that. He has detailed what he would do to help ensure that we keep our best and our brightest, how he help keep families together here in the United States. How we-- how we, you know, a million people a year immigrate here legally. We should celebrate that. The fact that a million people a year permanently immigrate to the United States legally every year, no other in the count-- no other country in the world even comes close.
BOB SCHIEFFER: After the hard line on immigration that people heard Republicans take during the-- the primary season, what would you say to a Hispanic about why they ought to vote Republican?
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: You know, the num-- the dominant theme in the Hispanic community is the desire to leave their kids better off than themselves. This is not a theory to me. I lived it. I mean I saw my parents work very hard many years so that everything that was impossible for them was possible for me. There's only one economic system in the world where that's consistently been able to happen, and that's the American free enterprise system, which the President is undermining and which Mitt Romney understands and will support.
And that's the American free enterprise system, which the President is undermining, and which Mitt Romney understands and will support. And that's the fundamental argument. Now the immigration issue is important. For a Hispanic family and a Hispanic voter in this country, immigration is not a statistical issue. They know someone who is in this predicament. It's a human issue to them. So we have to have-- we have to be clear that people understand that Republicans are the pro-legal immigration party. But beyond that issue this idea of economic empowerment and leaving your kids better off than yourself, I mean, that's number one issue in America and it's really important for Hispanics.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
We'll be back in a minute with the former and current chairs of the Republican Party--Haley Barbour and Reince Priebus--and Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, in a minute.
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