July 19th, 2015
10:22 AM ET

Marco Rubio on Trump's McCain comments: "...It's ridiculous. And I do think it is a disqualifier as commander in chief"

Today on CNN’s State of the Union, 2016 GOP Presidential Hopeful and Florida Senator, Marco Rubio, joined chief Washington correspondent and anchor, Jake Tapper in an exclusive interview.

For more information, see http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/. Also, text highlights and a transcript of the discussion are below.

MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN’s “State of the Union”

 

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS

Rubio’s response to Donald Trump’s Mexican comments: “Well, there was. I spoke against what Donald Trump said. But we have to remember this is a man who spent his whole life saying outrageous things. So, early in his campaign, when he said something outrageous, people kind of said just ignore it and move on, it will go away. This is what he does for a living. I think now, as this has gone forward and he's become a more covered candidate and people pay more attention to him, it's required people to be more forceful on some of these offensive things that he's saying. But I did - not only did I say that what he said about Mexicans is not just inaccurate, it's offensive, it's not true, and it's also offensive.”

Rubio on Donald Trump’s John McCain remarks:  “This is not just an insult to John McCain, who clearly is a war hero and a great man. But it's an insult to all POWs, to all men and women who have served us in uniform who have been captured in battle. And this somehow makes the assumption or he's saying that somehow if you're captured in battle, you're less worthy of honors than someone who isn't. It's not just absurd. It's offensive. It's ridiculous. And I do think it is a disqualifier as commander in chief.”

Rubio on if he plans for the Iran deal if he’s elected president: “I'm telling everyone now that, if I'm elected president of the United States, we will not use the national security waiver to hold back U.S. sanctions against Iran, especially not as a result of this flawed deal that he's pursuing.”

Rubio on China and Russia not being allies: “Well, first of all, I wouldn't call China and Russia allies. And, second, I would not - our foreign policy as a nation is not subject to what China wants to do or Russia wants to do or the E.U. wants to do or anybody wants to do. We have our own foreign policy. It needs to be in the national security interests of the United States. I would never have entered this negotiation unless we understood up front that Iran was going to stop enrichment activities, was going to stop their ballistic missile capabilities, and was going to stop sponsoring terrorism.”

Rubio on if he would shut down the Cuban Embassy in Washington D.C. if elected: “I would end the diplomatic relations with an anti- American communist tyranny, until such time as they actually held a democratic opening in Cuba, allowed people to organize independent political parties, have freedom of the press and freedom of expression. In fact, all these conditions are laid out in the law right now in the Cuban Democracy Act. The president in his opening towards Cuba is violating existing law. He is ignoring existing law. And there are a host of conditions that would have to be met before, under my administration, we would have normal relations with Cuba.”

Rubio on the immigration reform bill: “…I told them, if this bill is not stronger on the enforcement front, it will go nowhere. That's exactly how it played out. And, as a result, we have made no progress on immigration reform. I warned everybody about that during that process. Every time I would warn people about it, they said I was trying to unravel the process. I was being honest with them. There was no way this bill was going to pass unless the enforcement aspects of it were clearer and stronger. They were not strong enough.”

Rubio on supporting the path to citizenship: “Yes. Well, what I said is, if all we can get is a work permit, it is better than what we have now. There are some that do not support that. But you have to understand what a path to citizenship is. I don't think that's ever carefully explained. Before you can ever be a citizen, you have to be a permanent resident. That means a green card. And you have to be in that status for three to five years. And what I have argued is, if you have violated our laws, you should not be allowed to apply for a green card for at least 10 years. And then, when you apply for a green card, you should have to do it through the normal, regular process, not through a special process created for you. So it could take a long time for someone to ultimately apply for citizenship. But I think that's a fair way to do it. It should not be cheaper or faster to become a citizen by having come here illegally. But, ultimately, it's my opinion - and I understand some people disagree - that you don't want millions of people permanently living in this country who can never become Americans. But if the best we can do is to stop at the green card process or at the work permit process, that's still better than what we have now.”

Rubio on Hillary Clinton being “trapped in yesterday”, Uber, and businesses in America: “…she's trapped in yesterday. She's trying to apply 20th century constricts to a 21st century innovative industry. We face this over and over again. We're trying to regulate Internet development the way we regulated telephony, you know, telephone systems 20 years ago. You cannot regulate 21st century industries with 20th century ideas. The pace of innovation is too quick. If I had explained to you what Uber was five years ago, it would have been impossible, 10 years ago, completely impossible. The pace of change is so fast that the ability of government to keep up with it, it just can't. And her take on Airbnb, Lyft, Uber, these sorts of things is a perfect example of someone who's trapped in the past, and cannot understand how much the world is changing, and how much it's going to change in the years to come economically.”

FULL TRANSCRIPT

THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Joining us now, Senator Marco Rubio, Republican from Florida, 2016 nominee.

Thank you so much for joining us, Senator.

I know you have heard these comments from Donald Trump. Governor Perry says these comments disqualify Trump to be commander in chief. Do you agree?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do agree. This is not just an insult to John McCain, who clearly is a war hero and a great man.

But it's an insult to all POWs, to all men and women who have served us in uniform who have been captured in battle. And this somehow makes the assumption or he's saying that somehow if you're captured in battle, you're less worthy of honors than someone who isn't.

It's not just absurd. It's offensive. It's ridiculous. And I do think it is a disqualifier as commander in chief.

TAPPER: Now, some Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, have criticized you and your fellow Republican candidates for not speaking out more forcefully and more quickly after Trump's comments about undocumented immigrants. They wonder why this firestorm about McCain and not a firestorm about Mexicans?

RUBIO: Well, there was. I spoke against what Donald Trump said.

But we have to remember this is a man who spent his whole life saying outrageous things. So, early in his campaign, when he said something outrageous, people kind of said just ignore it and move on, it will go away. This is what he does for a living.

I think now, as this has gone forward and he's become a more covered candidate and people pay more attention to him, it's required people to be more forceful on some of these offensive things that he's saying. But I did - not only did I say that what he said about Mexicans is not just inaccurate, it's offensive, it's not true, and it's also offensive.

But what he said yesterday, of course, is offensive about John McCain and inaccurate about John McCain, but it actually is offensive to all POWs, the men and women who serve us in uniform, especially those who have served time in the hands of enemy captors and who are worthy of our admiration and respect.

TAPPER: Let's move on and discuss the deal President Obama announced to try to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions. Governor Scott Walker says he would rip up this deal on day one, Governor Jeb Bush says the next president would actually have to consult with his Cabinet and allies before throwing the deal out. What would President Marco Rubio do?

RUBIO: Yes.

Well, I think what people have to understand is that the American portion, the U.S. portion of the sanctions were passed by Congress. They are in the law today. The way the president is going to lift those sanctions is by the use of a national security waiver. The next president of the United States simply has to undo the use of the waiver.

And the sanctions are already in place. And they would be reinstated. And that's what I would do as president. You don't need to have a Cabinet fully formed to do that. In fact, I'm telling everyone now that, if I'm elected president of the United States, we will not use the national security waiver to hold back U.S. sanctions against Iran, especially not as a result of this flawed deal that he's pursuing.

TAPPER: The deal, as you point out, lots of people can poke holes in it, lots of people can point out flaws. The Obama administration says, what's the alternative? They argue that this deal, and the sanctions, depend upon international cooperation.

The Russians and Chinese were already talking about getting rid of sanctions. Is it not possible that this is simply the best deal any American president could have gotten?

RUBIO: No, I don't think that's true. I think that the sanctions were actually forcing Iran to the table.

I think we should have asked for a lot more. The sanctions - this deal violates promises the president made to the American people on multiple fronts. It is not an anytime/anywhere inspection system. It is an inspection process that will require arbitration over a 24-day period or longer that Iran can fight against and delay things. It actually doesn't have a snap-back provision. It says if, in fact, sanctions are ever re-imposed because Iran violates the constricts of this deal, any of the contracts that are already in place get to stay. It will only be sanctions on future contracts. So, it doesn't have a really - it doesn't have a real snap-back provision.

It also, by the way, requires us to help Iran technically, economically, develop themselves as a country and become a stronger regional power. That undermines our relationships with our Arab allies in the region and, of course, the state of Israel. And we could spend all day going through the different dynamics of this deal and how it doesn't go nearly far enough and I think almost guarantees that there will now be an arms race in the Middle East.

TAPPER: But what would President Rubio do if allies didn't agree with it, which is what it sounds like the Chinese and Russians, the position they were taking? Would you impose sanctions on China or India for not sanctioning Iran?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, I wouldn't call China and Russia allies. And, second, I would not - our foreign policy as a nation is not subject to what China wants to do or Russia wants to do or the E.U. wants to do or anybody wants to do. We have our own foreign policy. It needs to be in the national security interests of the United States. I would never have entered this negotiation unless we understood up front that Iran was going to stop enrichment activities, was going to stop their ballistic missile capabilities, and was going to stop sponsoring terrorism.

And none of these conditions have been met. And so now $150 billion is going to be delivered to the Iranian regime, which they will use a substantial portion of it to arm and support Hezbollah, to help Assad, and to help them carry out all sorts of terrorist activities, this to a government that has the blood of over 1,000 American servicemen on their hands, because they were the ones building the IEDs that killed a bunch of Americans in Iraq less than a decade ago.

TAPPER: Let's turn to another matter of foreign policy.

Tomorrow, here in Washington, D.C., the Cuban Embassy is going to open. This is, of course, part of President Obama's efforts to normalize relations with that country. You have made it very clear you oppose normalization. You have called President Obama's policy a victory for oppression. Would President Rubio shut down the Cuban Embassy here in Washington?

RUBIO: I would end the diplomatic relations with an anti- American communist tyranny, until such time as they actually held a democratic opening in Cuba, allowed people to organize independent political parties, have freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

In fact, all these conditions are laid out in the law right now in the Cuban Democracy Act. The president in his opening towards Cuba is violating existing law. He is ignoring existing law. And there are a host of conditions that would have to be met before, under my administration, we would have normal relations with Cuba. And that would include the return of fugitives from American justice that are now in Cuba, and that would require the political openings that I have outlined. And that would also require an ending of the intelligence facilities inside of Cuba by both the Russians and the Chinese that use the island of Cuba to spy against American facilities in the Southeast United States.

TAPPER: So - and - so I'm assuming, amidst all that, the U.S. Embassy - I mean, the Cuban Embassy in Washington would be shut down because you would end diplomatic relations.

RUBIO: Well, they - look, they have had an interests section there for years, and that function will continue. I don't think - other than their parties being better attended, I'm not sure what the difference is going to be between what we had before and what we have now, except that this recognition somehow sends a message to dissidents and others around the world that the United States accepts the Cuban form of government today as a legitimate form of government.

I do not. I believe the people of Cuba deserve what everyone else in the Western hemisphere has, democracy.

TAPPER: Let's turn to immigration for a second.

I know this might be a bit awkward, because you just defended him very strongly, but Senator John McCain had some not-so-nice words for you in a recent interview with "The New Yorker" magazine. The two of you worked together on immigration reform in the Senate, of course. But when asked about your leadership style, McCain - quote - "licked his finger, held it up in the air and laughed, referring to which way the wind blows. He said, 'Rubio backed away from it.'" I wanted to give you an opportunity to respond.

RUBIO: That was just John McCain being John McCain, because, at the end of the day, is - that bill had no chance to pass in the House. I repeatedly warned to the people working with me - you can go back and see the record - I told them, if this bill is not stronger on the enforcement front, it will go nowhere. That's exactly how it played out. And, as a result, we have made no progress on immigration reform. I warned everybody about that during that process. Every time I would warn people about it, they said I was trying to unravel the process. I was being honest with them. There was no way this bill was going to pass unless the enforcement aspects of it were clearer and stronger. They were not strong enough.

That's why today we have less votes for that bill than we did even two years ago. And that's why, while I continue to want to move forward on immigration, I know that the only way we can move forward on it is to first secure our borders, prevent visa overstays and have an E- Verify system. And only after we do that can we do the other two things I believe we need to do, modernize our legal immigration system and deal with those who have been here for a long time illegally, in a reasonable and responsible way.

TAPPER: Let's talk about the way to deal with people who have been here for a long time in a responsible and reasonable way. I want to play the quick exchange you had with a voter last month in New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you support a path to citizenship for immigrants who are in the United States, but are here illegally?

RUBIO: I do. But, first, we have to do two things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: And, obviously, those two things, securing the border and the E-Verify system.

RUBIO: Right. Right.

TAPPER: That's still your position, though, a path to citizenship once those other things have been taken care of?

RUBIO: Yes. Well, what I said is, if all we can get is a work permit, it is better than what we have now. There are some that do not support that. But you have to understand what a path to citizenship is. I don't think that's ever carefully explained. Before you can ever be a citizen, you have to be a permanent resident. That means a green card. And you have to be in that status for three to five years. And what I have argued is, if you have violated our laws, you should not be allowed to apply for a green card for at least 10 years. And then, when you apply for a green card, you should have to do it through the normal, regular process, not through a special process created for you.

So it could take a long time for someone to ultimately apply for citizenship. But I think that's a fair way to do it. It should not be cheaper or faster to become a citizen by having come here illegally. But, ultimately, it's my opinion - and I understand some people disagree - that you don't want millions of people permanently living in this country who can never become Americans. But if the best we can do is to stop at the green card process or at the work permit process, that's still better than what we have now.

TAPPER: There seems to be a big chasm in economic policy that came out over the last few days I wanted to ask you about. Secretary of State - former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took on what she called the sharing economy, companies such as Uber and Lyft that use contractors, not employees. In your book, you have a chapter entitled "Making America Safe for Uber," and you're embracing these companies. What's wrong with Hillary Clinton's push to encourage companies like Uber to offer health insurance, offer benefits?

RUBIO: Because she's trapped in yesterday. She's trying to apply 20th century constricts to a 21st century innovative industry.

We face this over and over again. We're trying to regulate Internet development the way we regulated telephony, you know, telephone systems 20 years ago. You cannot regulate 21st century industries with 20th century ideas. The pace of innovation is too quick. If I had explained to you what Uber was five years ago, it would have been impossible, 10 years ago, completely impossible. The pace of change is so fast that the ability of government to keep up with it, it just can't. And her take on Airbnb, Lyft, Uber, these sorts of things is a perfect example of someone who's trapped in the past, and cannot understand how much the world is changing, and how much it's going to change in the years to come economically.

TAPPER: Senator Marco Rubio, thank you so much.

RUBIO: Thank you.

###END INTERVIEW###


Topics: CNN • Jake Tapper • State of the Union
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