Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), joined anchor, Jake Tapper to discuss tomorrow’s Iowa Caucus.
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”
CNN POLITICS STORY: ‘No one is unbeatable,’ Rubio says
Rubio on Cruz: “Yes, so Ted’s — the lie that his whole campaign is built on is that he’s the only conservative and everyone else is a sellout and a rino, and it’s absurd. Even on immigration. I mean, he helped design George W. Bush’s immigration policy. He talked openly in an interview — national interview about needing to reach a compromise on people that are here illegally. I mean, there’s a tweet that was going around yesterday that he put out during the immigration debate talking about legalization. He said he wanted to bring people out of the shadows. He said he wanted to obviously pass immigration reform. So I think it’s just not an accurate statement.”
Rubio on Trump’s candidacy: “No one is — it’s a very unusual year. No one is unbeatable. This election is not going to be decided by one or two states. I think the race will narrow after a couple states, but no one — myself or anyone else — is going to have to earn this nomination. And it is going to be a very unusual, highly contested, I think, longer-than-usual process given the size of the field and given the challenge before the country.”
Rubio on Cruz’s campaign strategy: “But this whole notion Ted has that he’s the only conservative, I think as people learn more about his record, they’ll realize what her really is very calculated. He’s always looking to take whatever position it takes to win votes or raise money. You know, we’re not going to beat Hillary Clinton with someone that will say or do anything to get elected.”
THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Thanks so much for doing this. Appreciate it.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks for having me. Thanks for coming.
TAPPER: So the buzz in Iowa is that there is Marcomentum, that you are rising.
Do you feel it? Does that seem accurate?
RUBIO: We feel good about our team and the work we’ve done here. What it leads to, we’ll see. You know, obviously Ted is the front-runner. He’s got 10,000 volunteers. He has put a lot of resources and time. He got every endorsement he wanted.
So, he’s truly the favorite, but we feel good about our work and the work we’ve done here. What that translates to in future states, and we love being in Iowa and the people here have been fantastic. It has been a very rewarding experience.
So, I do feel good. Our crowds are growing. The people signing up are growing. Our campaign structure feels good about it. So we’ll see what it leads to. But I feel real good about Wednesday. We’ll have a strong showing on Monday night.
TAPPER: I was just talking to Senator Cruz and asked him why should people pick him over you? And he said that you both ran in 2010, promising that you would block amnesty. And he kept his promise, and you broke your promise.
RUBIO: Yes, so Ted’s — the lie that his whole campaign is built on is that he’s the only conservative and everyone else is a sellout and a rino, and it’s absurd. Even on immigration.
I mean, he helped design George W. Bush’s immigration policy. He talked openly in an interview — national interview about needing to reach a compromise on people that are here illegally. I mean, there’s a tweet that was going around yesterday that he put out during the immigration debate talking about legalization. He said he wanted to bring people out of the shadows. He said he wanted to obviously pass immigration reform.
So I think it’s just not an accurate statement. I’ve tried to fix a problem that’s a very serious issue in Texas and in Florida, and it’s a hard issue. And clearly we’re not going to be able to do it comprehensively, and we’re not going to be able to do it until we first enforce our immigration laws. But I don’t support amnesty. We’re not going to have amnesty when I’m president. There’s going to be real consequences for violating our law.
But this whole notion Ted has that he’s the only conservative, I think as people learn more about his record, they’ll realize what her really is very calculated. He’s always looking to take whatever position it takes to win votes or raise money. You know, we’re not going to beat Hillary Clinton with someone that will say or do anything to get elected.
TAPPER: One of the things Cruz said is that you gave an interview to Univision’s to Jorge Ramos in which you said in Spanish that you would not try to undo the executive actions President Obama made when it came to illegal —
RUBIO: That’s also inaccurate. That just never happened. What I’ve always said is that the president’s DACA on adults needs to be — well now it’s being stayed by a court, but I’ll repeal it, and DACA needs to end, too. And I’ve always said that.
The only thing with DACA is, you know, people that are on it now would not be allowed to re-register and we shouldn’t be adding new people to it. And that’s consistently my position. So, it’s just not accurate.
I mean, at the end of this election here, he’s just making stuff up. And it’s strange, given, you know, the formidable organization that he has here in Iowa. He’s obviously spooked by something. And so we expect the kitchen sink here in the next 48 hours.
TAPPER: Ben Sasse, the senator from Nebraska, with whom I believe you’ve campaigned.
TAPPER: He’s — he’s — he hasn’t endorsed anybody, but he certainly made it very clear that he thinks Trump would be a disaster as a nominee. And he’s a constitutional Republican.
Sasse has brought up Donald Trump’s private life. Talking about relationships he’s had, extramarital, et cetera.
Is that fair game? Is that kind of thing fair game?
RUBIO: Well, I don’t bring it up. I like Ben very much and he — if he wants to bring it up, you’d have to ask him about it and I’m not condemning him for it. I’m just telling you that I don’t bring that up because quite frankly in my mind, that’s not the issue in this campaign. This country wants someone that will help undo the damage Barack Obama has done to America. So that’s what I focus on. And that’s what my campaign is about.
So I can talk to you about the things I say or don’t say. What somebody else says, you’ll have to ask them.
TAPPER: You were talking about how voters seem to really like authenticity and genuineness. And when I talk to voters in Iowa, one of the things they say, the Trump supporters, is they don’t bring up his policies, even. They just like that he says what he thinks and he doesn’t care about political correctness. He doesn’t care about ruffling feathers. He’s just honest.
You are very disciplined politician. I’m not calling you ungenuine, but you’re a very disciplined politician. Do you think that that might work against you in a cycle like this?
RUBIO: No, look. People can call it disciplined. I’m just — I’m running on a very specific agenda. I mean, I’m running for president of the United States. I’m not doing this for entertainment. I’m doing it because this country is headed in the wrong direction.
Seven years of Barack Obama has done tremendous damage to our economy, to our standing in the world, to our national security, and those are the issues I’m focused on.
And I keep talking about them over and over because they’re the reasons I’m running. And so — Donald is the greatest show on earth. You know, he’s very entertaining. But this campaign isn’t about that. It’s got to be about the serious issues confronting this country because if we get this election wrong, there may be no turning back on some of these issues.
TAPPER: Can Trump be stopped?
RUBIO: In terms of the nomination?
RUBIO: Sure. This is a very unusual year. No one is — it’s a very unusual year. No one is unbeatable.
This election is not going to be decided by one or two states. I think the race will narrow after a couple states, but no one — myself or anyone else — is going to have to earn this nomination. And it is going to be a very unusual, highly contested, I think, longer-than-usual process given the size of the field and given the challenge before the country.
TAPPER: Where can you win? What states can you win?
RUBIO: Well we try to do well everywhere. Obviously I’m not the campaign strategist. You can talk to them about that. I’m running for president.
And so what I focus on is I go out every day and try to get as many people as possible to be inspired and believe in our message and vote for me. Whether it’s here in Iowa on Monday in the caucus, whether it’s in the primary a week later in New Hampshire. What that translates to, you know, we’ll see. I feel good about it. But you know, I don’t view it — I really don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the strategy. I spend most of my time thinking about what we need to do when I’m president.
TAPPER: A lot of people out there think that Trump can be stopped but not if there are so many traditional politicians, which I don’t mean as an insult, but traditional politicians in the race. You, Christie, Kasich, Jeb Bush, et cetera.
Do you think after Iowa and New Hampshire it will be time for some of these traditional candidates to coalesce behind one?
RUBIO: No. You can’t force anyone to do that. People are going to run until they feel it’s time for them not to. And you know, I’ve never called for anyone to get out of the race. I think it will just happen. It always happens.
So I suspect that after Iowa, there will be perhaps a candidate or two that may decide not to continue. Certainly after New Hampshire, I think that will be the case. And so that will play itself out in due time.
But these people have worked very hard. I mean, I’m out there, but they’re out there, too. They’re out there — they’ve been working for a year. They’ve been doing the town halls and shaking of the hands. They deserve to have voters, you know, weigh in on their candidacy and not have somebody calling on anyone to step aside.
It will happen. And it will happen in the appropriate time, you know. No matter what our differences might be, I do respect people that are out there running for president in both parties. It’s hard to do. Having done this, having gone through this now, I have tremendous respect for the people that have done it before, for the people who are doing it now.
TAPPER: One of the things that was interesting about the Republican debate the other night in addition to the absence of the front-runner was the fact that Hillary Clinton was mentioned, I think, 32 times. Barack Obama was mentioned, I think, the same. Donald Trump was only mentioned 14 times.
Before you are able to take on Hillary Clinton, as I know you’re eager to do, you have to get past the front-runner. And it seems like a lot of candidates are reluctant to even take him on.
RUBIO: No, I mean, when I’ve had disagreements with Donald we’ve discussed those in the past. Not as much in the debates but — because it just hasn’t come up, but we’ve most certainly done it during the campaign. If you go back to early, late fall, you’ll see that.
But this campaign is not about Republicans tearing each other up. This campaign is about ensuring that we can turn this country around. We’re not going to turn this country around if a socialist like Bernie Sanders or someone like Hillary Clinton is elected president of the United States.
TAPPER: Senator, thanks so much. I really appreciate it.
RUBIO: I appreciate it.