STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST: Florida's independent Governor Charlie Crist taking aim at offshore drilling today, the governor saying -- and I'm quoting now -- "We need to stop offshore oil drilling in Florida. I'd like to, frankly, have a special session to ban it in the Sunshine State."
Reaction now from his Republican opponent in the Florida Senate race, Marco Rubio. By the way, we invited the governor and Democrat in the race, Kendrick Meek, to appear on the show. We got no response from them.
Mr. Rubio, welcome to the program. Would you join this attempted ban on offshore drilling?
MARCO RUBIO, FLORIDA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Offshore drilling is already banned in Florida's waters, so I'm not quite sure what he's trying to ban and I'm not sure what he's trying to stop, because drilling on Florida's territorial waters is already illegal by Florida law.
So, having a special session to pass a ban is nothing but a political stunt. It's already banned in Florida.
VARNEY: Well, it might extend the ban. It would be a ban -- it sounds like -- and I have not seen the details, but it sounds like it will be a much broader-based ban on drilling anywhere near the Florida coastline anywhere out into the Gulf.
Would you support that?
RUBIO: Well, Florida law can't do that. The only thing Florida has jurisdiction over is its own waters. And it's already illegal to drill anywhere in its own waters by state law.
So, I think what he's saying is -- he's trying to ban something that's already illegal.
VARNEY: Then I'm asking, in principle, how do you stand on the idea of banning oil drilling offshore, whether the state of Florida can do it or not? How do you feel about it?
RUBIO: Well, first of all, I think the way we have to approach is differently. We have to look at it and say, OK, America needs to develop alternatives to petroleum. Everyone agrees with that. Let's have electric -- let's lead the world in electric cars and in fuel-cell-powered cars, et cetera. Let's do that.
But what about the interim? What about the time that it takes to develop that? We and the rest of the world are going to be using petroleum. We need it -- that's what fuels our economy. That's just the reality.
So, then we have a choice to make: Do we want to import more of it or do we want to domestically produce more of it? And, by the way, importing carries its own dangers. It carries national security dangers. It carries national economic dangers. It also carries the dangers of tankers, because tankers run aground and tankers leak. In fact, they're historically much more dangerous than drilling.
The bottom line is that America has to produce more energy of its own and drilling may have to be a part of that, so long as it can be done safely.
VARNEY: Governor Crist has gained ground since the tar balls started to haul up on the shores of the Florida. He's gained ground. He's out front, in front of the cameras every single day on this issue. He's -- I hesitate to say, but he's winning politically on this issue, especially by calling for this offshore ban.
Now, what can -- how do you attack that? How do you come back on that?
RUBIO: Well, first of all, I don't think this oil spill should be the opportunity for political gain by anybody. I'm not quite sure I agree that he has -- that there has been gain.
But that being said, I think that the people who need to win here are the people of our state and of our country. And what we need are leadership at the state level that will call on the White House to do a competent job of dealing with this.
If you talk to local elected officials in Northwest Florida, they will tell you that the bureaucracy they are dealing with in order to do their jobs in dealing with this is monstrous. And what they're looking for is a voice that will stand up to the federal government and say enough is enough. Get out of our way and let us do our job. Just provide us the resources.
We're not getting that in Florida, the way they are getting it in Louisiana and Mississippi, for political reasons.
VARNEY: OK. Let me ask you about President Obama. He's come back from the Toronto meeting with world leaders. And he's talking about spending more money, as opposed to the Europeans, who want austerity. I'm going to run a quick sound bite from the president. Essentially, he's calling your bluff and other Republicans. Just listen to this for a second:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Next year, when I start presenting some very difficult choices to the country, I hope some of these folks who are hollering about deficits and debt step up, because I'm calling their bluff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VARNEY: Well, I hesitate to say, but you, sir, have been hollering about deficits and debt.
Will you step up now -- not next year, but now -- and do something about spending and the deficits now? Would you do that?
RUBIO: Well, first of all, it's ironic that Europe is now lecturing America about spending.
VARNEY: Yes, it is.
RUBIO: It's pretty sad. But the other thing I would say to you about it is that we have been talking about this throughout our campaign. And if by difficult measures, the president is talking about a value added tax or some other new revenue source for America that will make it even harder to grow businesses, we're not going to be for that. We shouldn't be for that.
We have to make some tough choices. They should have started making them a long time ago. It's called entitlement reform. It's reforming our budgetary process, so that there are not any more earmarks, so that we have a realistic, real world accounting of how much government -- of how much government is spending, absolutely.
VARNEY: It's a very tough position for you to take, isn't it? This is -- this is tough stuff, indeed, to call for some kind of cutting back on entitlement programs. And that's the bottom line here, and to do it now. That's a tough one.
Well, what I'm calling for is to reform those entitlement programs. I don't think we should cut anything for people that are currently on the system. And the only way we're going to prevent future cuts to people that are on Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid is for us to make the reforms that need to be made right now for people of my generation.
I have been talking about the entire campaign, look, here's very simple: Forty cents of every dollar being spent by the federal government is being borrowed from my children. I think that's outrageous. We have to stop doing that.
VARNEY: You can tell I'm a European and I was looking at the coverage of the events in Toronto over the weekend. What caught my eye were those demonstrations. The violence in the streets of Toronto, I think we're going to run it.
Yes, look at this, running riot in the streets of Toronto. I'm inclined to think look at the mainstream media and how they covered that violence and how they covered peaceful Tea Party meetings. There was a direct contrast from one to the other. Do you have any comment on that?
RUBIO: I haven't seen some of that footage. I can't see it now in the studio anyway.
I have long given up trying to get mainstream media to accurately represent what fiscal conservatism means in America. It means the mainstream position in our country. Most Americans understand, I think the vast majority, that our government cannot continue to spend more money than it takes in and us be able to maintain the levels of prosperity and freedom that we as Americans are used to.
VARNEY: I guess what I'm getting at is that, when the Tea Party meetings were held, the slightest offensive sign --
VARNEY: The mainstream media jumped all over it and said look at what those Republicans are doing. Now you get the violence on the streets of Toronto -- and it was violent, 500-plus arrests -- and nobody is making the connection between President Obama demonizing businesses and the way those demonstrators demonized and attacked businesses.
It just seems like such a contradiction to me.
RUBIO: Well, again, I think that's -- you find too much of that today in the mainstream media here in our country.
But the bottom line is that I think that there are members of this administration that do not support America's free enterprise system. They want America to embrace a model more like that which you see now in Western Europe. And you see how well that has turned out in Western Europe.
And, unfortunately, some of these images you're now seeing, maybe not the violence hopefully, but the protests, are going to be part of our future, if we don't understand serious reforms now that prevent the problem from getting worse.
VARNEY: Let me also look at the issues of small businesses and hiring and taxes. I want you to listen to what Vice President Joe Biden said to a gentleman who asked him about -- or actually begged for, lower my taxes.
Listen to this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN: What do we owe you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't worry. It's on us. Lower our taxes and we will call it even.
BIDEN: Why don't you say something nice, instead of being a smart (EXPLETIVE DELETED) all the time?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me, guys. We're done. Thank you.
BIDEN: Say something nice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VARNEY: I don't know whether you could see that or not. We did -- we bleeped out what the vice president said, smart___ that kind of thing.
VARNEY: We bleeped that one out. But you get the point. You can have some hay with this one -- make some hay with this one, can you?
RUBIO: Well, I think Vice President Biden has a way with words sometimes that perhaps he even regrets.
But the bigger problem is the tax policies that are discouraging job creation on our country. Last month, there was virtually no private sector jobs created in America. And that's because of all the uncertainty that this administration is injecting into the economy.
Talk of card check, cap and trade, Obama-care, value added taxes, on top of that a growing debt, all of these things create a level of uncertainty that is discouraging capital from being invested and creating jobs and opportunity in America. We have to reverse course. That's why I'm running for U.S. Senate.
VARNEY: Is that your focus, small business and job creation?
RUBIO: It is. Absolutely.
VARNEY: Small business regulation, get it away?
RUBIO: My focus is twofold. Yes, my focus is pretty straightforward: I want to shrink the debt and grow the economy and try to do both simultaneously.
And I think the way you do that is by re-embracing the free enterprise principles that have made us the freest, most prosperous people in all of human history.
VARNEY: Now, the taxes on the so-called rich, the top 1-1.5. percent of income-earners, supposed to go up on January the 1st. If elected, would you argue against that tax hike?
RUBIO: Yes. I would -- in fact, I would argue in favor of making permanent the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. And I would argue doing it now, before they recess, so that people have some level of certainty.
I think, going forward, we need to simplify our tax code. And we can get to that next. But I think the most important thing now is to provide certainty, particularly to job creators. And that's what you're describing when you talk about that upper 1 percent is job creators.
It's important to provide them with certainty in our marketplace by making permanent these tax cuts and not allowing the tax code to become something that is played for at the whim of the administration and congressional leaders that just want more revenue.
VARNEY: You're arguing economics. I put it to you that, if you suggested that we not increase taxes on the rich on January 1, you would be demagogued to death. You would be accused of giving money to the rich at a time of a nasty recession.
RUBIO: Well, the bottom line is that we need folks to create jobs in America. And jobs in America are created by people that have money or access to money. And they use that money to start a business or expand an existing one. That's how economics works.
I mean, if we have reached a point in American history where you can't be honest with people about that and talk to them about the reality of what makes our economy grow, then we're in bigger trouble than I thought we were in.
I don't think we have reached that point. I think people are -- want to hear frank and genuine discussions about what it will take to get this economy growing again, not this anemic growth that we see right now. And I hope my candidacy, among many others across the country, will be a vehicle through which to do that, a catalyst, so to speak.
VARNEY: Elena Kagan possibly going on to the Supreme Court, looks likely in fact. I know that you want to repeal the health care reform bill -- get rid of it, repeal it. Where do you think she would stand on health care reform if those questions -- constitutional, legal questions -- came before the Supreme Court and she was on it?
RUBIO: Well, it's tough to tell. I do think that what her writings suggest from her time in the White House is that she has a political ear and that oftentimes many -- much of the advice she gave on legal issues were directed by political considerations. And we certainly don't need that on the Supreme Court.
So, I hope that the senators, through their consent and advice role that the Senate plays, will ask the difficult questions of Ms. Kagan as far as to where she stands on these issues and more importantly what she sees the role of the judiciary, which is the most important thing I want to know about a Supreme Court nominee.
I certainly don't think the role of Supreme Court justice is to be a political operative. And as far as what I have read from the history that she had while working at the White House, she certainly allowed politics to play a role in her opinion on legal issues.
VARNEY: Do you think that the Democrats have declared war on the Roberts court because it is, some say, the standard-bearer for corporate America?
RUBIO: Well, I certainly think they want to change the ideological direction of the court. We saw a ruling today on gun rights that said the Second Amendment applies to city and local governments.
RUBIO: I doubt that is the kind of court they want. And I would -- I think they would like to get on the five side of that majority on their views, their ideological direction. And I think this is part of that process.
VARNEY: It probably wouldn't make much balance -- difference to the balance of the court, though, because she would be replacing someone who is considered liberal, Justice Stevens.
VARNEY: So, this particular nomination...
RUBIO: Yes, it wouldn't change the makeup of this court.
RUBIO: Yes, it wouldn't change the makeup of this court, but what I'm saying is, they would like to get to the five side of it.
And I think their next probably nomination is the one they're looking at, but it's important to keep this one as solidly on the fourth side right now as what they have.
VARNEY: But no tax hikes for the rich on January 1 and roll back health care reform, that's where Marco Rubio stands, amongst other issues, right?
RUBIO: That's right.
VARNEY: Marco Rubio, it was a pleasure. Nice to see you, sir. Thanks very much for joining us. Appreciate it.
RUBIO: Thank you.
And, just, remember, the rich, that's not how I -- I call them job creators, because that's what many of these people do. And if we tax them, they won't have the money available to invest in creating new jobs in America.
So, thanks for having me.
VARNEY: Well, you're speaking to someone who grew up in Western Europe. I know whereof you speak.
Thanks for joining us, sir.
VARNEY: A pleasure. Thank you, sir.
RUBIO: Thank you.