Candidate Profile: Marco Rubio
In the 2008 presidential race, a young, charismatic senator overtook frontrunner Hillary Clinton to garner the democratic nomination. History may be repeating itself through Florida senator Marco Rubio. Once known for drinking water at the wrong time, 44-year-old Rubio, bolstered by strong debate performances and widely-praised interviews, currently sits at 4th place in the polls. Donald Trump recently called the senator a “clown”, but pundits agree that, much like 2008’s Barack Obama, Marco Rubio may just be the man to beat. Who is Marco Rubio?
A Miami native, Marco Rubio is the son of Cuban immigrants and speaks fluent spanish. Rubio holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Florida and a J.D. from the University of Miami. Shortly after graduating law school, Rubio worked on Bob Dole’s presidential campaign and served as a City Commissioner for West Miami. In 2000, Rubio was elected to the Florida House of Representatives, where he became the first Cuban American to be appointed Speaker of the House. Rubio gained notoriety in 2013 when the now-senator delivered the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address, marking the first time the speech has been given in both English and Spanish. Senator Rubio still lives in Miami, where he teaches political science at Florida International University, with his wife Jeanette and their four children.
Fun fact: Marco originally attended college on a football scholarship.
What’s the theme of this candidate’s campaign?
A New American Century.
The Iran Deal?
After the deal was finalized in July, Senator Rubio attacked the Obama administration for “giving concession after concession to a regime that has American blood on its hands, holds Americans hostage and has consistently violated every agreement it ever signed”, later claiming to The Washington Times that the deal “undermines our national security.” He also pledged not to support a deal with Iran “that allows the mullahs to retain the ability to develop nuclear weapons, threaten Israel, and continue their regional expansionism and support for terrorism”.
Senator Rubio, whose Middle East know-how helped him stand out at the last GOP presidential debate, wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post last May that the region “is more dangerous and unstable than when Obama came into office”, blaming the President’s disengagement for the rise of jihadi extremists such as ISIS. Rubio’s strategy for defeating the terrorist group, the senator told Hugh Hewitt last month, includes forming a coalition with our sunni Arab allies (such as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iraqi Kurds), increasing air strikes and logistical support, and embedding special operations forces alongside the U.S.-backed soldiers. In response to Russian president Vladimir Putin’s recent decision to equip Syria to fight the Islamic State, Rubio told Megyn Kelly of Fox News that both ISIS and Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad “need to go.”
Rubio’s wariness towards Russia’s support for Syria belies his deeper mistrust for the nation; the senator has penned multiple op-eds regarding the threat Putin’s goals pose to the West and claimed during an exchange at the September 16 GOP debate that President Putin “wants to reposition Russia, once again, as a geopolitical force” and that “he’s trying to destroy NATO.” In his most recent op-ed for National Review, Rubio called upon the United States to “confront Putin’s assault on international security” by barring Russian firms from Western markets, providing weaponry to the Ukrainian government, and stationing more NATO forces in Baltic states.
In March, Senator Rubio delivered what National Review called a “withering rebuke” of President Obama’s treatment of Israel. “How much better would the world be if the Middle East looked more like Israel?” Rubio asked before launching into a critique of the Obama administration’s “historic and tragic mistake” of delegitimizing Israel’s existence. These statements reflect his voting record, where he has co-sponsored several pro-Israel acts, including a resolution that would recognize Israel’s right to defend itself and its borders against missile attacks from Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
The blot on Rubio’s conservative record comes from his infamous involvement with the so-called Gang of Eight in 2013. The bipartisan commission (which included 2008 presidential candidate John McCain and current candidate Lindsey Graham) proposed a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would have provided a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the United States. More recently, however, when asked by talk show host Sean Hannity how President Rubio would handle illegal immigration, the senator responded, “The first two things you have to do is stop illegal immigration, then second you have to modernize our legal immigration system, and then third you can have a debate about how to even legalize people to begin with[.]”
“Since ObamaCare’s passage, many Americans have seen the law transition from a political mess to a personal disaster,” Rubio wrote in an August op-ed for Politico Magazine. Rubio then presented his alternative, a three-tiered repeal-and-replace plan that included the creation of a refundable tax credit Americans may use to purchase health insurance, comprehensive insurance regulation reform (including a provision that protects taxpayers from insurance company bailouts), and Medicare and Medicaid transitions to premium support and per-capita block grant systems, respectively.
Rubio has heavily criticized the U.S. tax system, which, he claimed in a reform proposal, “taxes too much, taxes unfairly, and stifles economic opportunity for American families, businesses, and individuals.” The proposal, co-authored with Senator Mike Lee, would consolidate existing income tax brackets into 15% and 35%, eliminate the marriage and parent tax penalties, and reform various credits and deductions. On the business side, the plan would “reduce marginal tax rates, permit full and immediate deduction of capital expenses, eliminate the double taxation of corporate income, make interest neither taxable nor deductible and move to a territorial tax system”, suggestions that, according to Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint, “would dramatically improve economic growth and the real incomes of most Americans.” Rubio also signed Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge this April, promising to oppose any effort to raise taxes if elected president.
“The public school system for millions of disadvantaged American children is a disaster. Many of these schools deny opportunity to those who need it most. We need to allow charter schools and other innovative schools to flourish. The key to that is empowering parents. … All our parents should be able to send their children to the school of their choice[,]” Senator Rubio explained in a 2012 speech. Regarding higher education, Rubio, who spent 16 years paying off his student loan debt, introduced an investment system that would allow private investors to pay a student’s tuition in exchange for a portion of the student’s future income and has supported state control of college accreditation.
Rubio’s highly-publicized comment at the August presidential debate that “all human life is worthy of protection, irrespective of the circumstances in which that human life was created” was followed by an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, where the senator said he would support any legislation that reduced the number of abortions, whether or not the bill included exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life. Rubio does not, however, support restrictions on morning-after pills or contraceptives, claiming that access to such commodities reduces abortions. This week, Rubio reiterated his pro-life views in an interview with daily newsletter theSkimm: “When confronted with two competing rights, the right to live and the right to choose, I'm forced to make a choice. And I'm gonna choose the side of life.”
A strong advocate of traditional marriage and the family structure, Rubio supported Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Act that would allow businesses to deny customers service due to religious beliefs. After Kentucky clerk Kim Davis was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Rubio said to The New York Times, “While the clerk’s office has a governmental duty to carry out the law, there should be a way to protect the religious freedom and conscience rights of individuals working in the office. … Our nation was founded on the human right of religious freedom, and our elected leaders have a duty to protect that right by ensuring that no one is forced by the government to violate their conscience and deeply held religious beliefs about traditional marriage.”
Unlike many of his Republican opponents, Senator Rubio believes the climate is changing; unlike the candidates across the aisle, he doesn’t blame human activity (or the Chinese). “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it,” he said on ABC’s The Week, adding “I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy.” At a speech in Oklahoma City, Rubio vowed to undo major environmental policies enacted by President Obama and the EPA, including the new power plant regulations and the ban on crude oil exports.
Is she a controversial figure? Why?
Immigration debacle aside, Rubio has recently landed in controversy at the Trump Show; at the September debate, businessman Trump accused Rubio of having the worst voting record in the Senate. While Rubio does have the second-worst voting record, Politifact revealed that the top honor actually goes to Trump ally Ted Cruz. National Review further pointed out that “Trump has limited his criticism of Rubio’s record to quantity and not to quality”; even with the Gang of Eight disaster, Rubio enjoys a 98% “conservative” rating from the American Conservative Union and 92% from Heritage Action (by comparison, the average Republican senator sits at 61%). The only presidential candidate to rank higher? Ted Cruz.
What’s one humorous or summarizing quote from this presidential hopeful?
“America doesn't owe me anything. But I have a debt to America that I'll never be able to repay. For me, America isn't just a country, it's a place that literally changed the history of my family. It's a nation of equal opportunity it's the most powerful force for good that the world has ever known. This is the America that welcomed my parents.” (Speech at 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference)
Photo Credit: RedState