Florida Senator Marco Rubio was my guest to open today’s show.
HH: I begin my program when I am very lucky, and welcome back Senator Marco Rubio. Senator, good to have you, welcome.
MR: I’m glad to be back with you.
HH: You made some news today saying you’d decide on a presidential run about a year from now. Isn’t that a little bit late?
MR: Around this time next year is what I said, and you know, I think that’s around the time I’ll have to make a decision about something, I mean, because I’ll either have to run for reelection, or not run for anything, or run for another office. So again, I don’t think there’s an individual date in mind for anybody. Everybody has their own timetable, but around this time next year.
HH: Now Senator, I’m just curious about Florida law. Can you seek both reelection to the Senate and the presidential nomination? Joe Lieberman could…
MR: No, you can’t be on the ballot for two different offices, so…and I think that’s the right law.
HH: Do you think it would be okay for you to seek the presidency, if it didn’t work out, then switch back to the Senate, because I mean, people hate…
MR: I haven’t even thought that far ahead. You know, I think by and large, when you choose to do something as big as that, you’ve really got to be focused on that and not have an exit strategy.
HH: Interesting, interesting. Okay, yesterday you told Ellison Barber of the Washington Free Beacon, I really love the Washington Free Beacon, and Ellison’s a great reporter, that we need sanctions on some individual Venezuelans. I agree with this. Any support growing for this?
MR: I hope so. I mean, we’ve kind of been tied up a little bit in the Foreign Relations Committee. I think some of our members have what I would call sanctions fatigue, but I don’t think, we don’t have the luxury of getting tired when it comes to foreign relations and foreign policy. We, this is a big world, and America is involved in every part of it. It has to be because of who we are and what it means to world stability. On the issue of Venezuela, I would say this is actually happening in our own hemisphere. This is not some small, obscure country halfway around the world. This is in our own hemisphere. It’s impacting us right now. Economically, it’s impacting us, certainly in Florida with people that live in the United States and have family and businesses back in Venezuela. But I will also say this goes to the heart of our morality in our foreign policy, about our values of freedom and respect for human rights. And what I’ve been saying repeatedly is if the United States is not going to stand up and condemn a government that attacks and kills its own people in the streets, and is eroding any semblance of democracy in our own hemisphere, if the United States is not going to speak out against that, what nation in the world will? And the answer is nobody will. But we’re the only nation still capable of rallying and coalescing and creating partnerships and alliances with the free nations of the world. And Venezuela is a test of that right here in our own hemisphere. And I don’t think it’s one we can fail. So I hope we can go after not just the people who are enriching themselves by stealing from the Venezuelan people, but also those that are responsible, directly or indirectly, for the crimes and the murders being committed against the Venezuelan people.
HH: Influence in places of conflict like Venezuela or the Crimea or Ukraine generally require military power first. And this DOD budget is terrible. Now you’re one of the handful of senators who have to worry about things like carrier support since you have Naval Station Mayport there in Jacksonville.
HH: First off, are you satisfied that the hair-brained scheme to downsize our carrier fleet is dead?
MR: I’m not satisfied that it’s dead. I think it’s something that some in the military favor for different reasons, and many in the administration do. And I think it’s not the right decision to make. I think there’s a reason why, if you look at China, India, even Brazil, they’re building aircraft carriers for a reason. The age of the aircraft carrier still matters. It is one of the most effective ways to project power abroad. It has clear symbolic importance, but it also has tactical and functional importance, and so I’m a big supporter of the ability to have 12, 13 aircraft carriers that we can project power with around the world. And these things also require regular maintenance, which means you’re not going to have them all available at the same time. So you have to have a sufficient number of them so that you can rotate them in and out of service and still not have lapses in coverage in different parts of the world.
HH: Yeah, I’m spending the third hour today with Robert Kaplan who has a new book out called Asia’s Cauldron. And China’s on a path to have nine carriers of their own in just the South China Sea.
HH: It’s crazy if we downsize.
MR: Well, the South China Sea, about 50% of the world’s commerce goes through the South China Sea. That’s how important it is. And what’s kept shipping lanes open, you know, we take all this stuff for granted, because none of us who are alive today ever lived in a time where countries basically dominated portions of the Earth and didn’t allow anyone to go through there. I mean, nobody, very few people alive today remember German U-boats sinking transatlantic shipping and so forth. And the impact that would have on our economy would be even greater today than it was back then. So China has this work of fiction called the Nine Dash Line, where no one quite knows what it means, but what I know it means is it means they are claiming this is part of China’s territory, and they have historical claims that go back thousands of years on it. That’s an illegitimate claim. What has kept the shipping lanes of the world open all these years, and commerce to flourish, has been the power and ability of the United States Navy. And if we diminish that, there are going to be consequences. So you are right. China’s investing a lot of money in what’s called anti-access technology. Basically, they want to make it harder and harder for our Navy to operate close to their shores or in that part of the world, and to drive us further and further out of there.
HH: And speaking specifically about this budget that we saw Secretary Hagel put in, it cuts way back on Tomahawks and Hellfires. It aces out the A-10. Any specific comments on, like, the Tomahawks and the Hellfires, Senator?
MR: Well, not only do we need to continue to develop those programs, but we actually need to continue to develop and research and development that allows us to find the new versions of all those, in additional programs, because the Chinese are actively working on anti-denial systems that render our existing platforms unable to function against them. So we can’t allow that to happen. Look, there’s I think in general, and when you’re in government, you can’t, you don’t have the luxury of wishful thinking or operating based on theory. You have to operate on basic fundamental truths that have been proven throughout history. And a fundamental truth of history is the best way to ensure peace is to be strong. The stronger your military, the less likely you’re ever going to have to use it. And I don’t think we should forget that lesson. We, in our history, have had some painful reminders of that on numerous occasions.
HH: Let’s switch to domestic policy. The Obamacare numbers announced yesterday were soft. They’re getting softer by the moment. Is anyone fooled, Senator?
MR: I’m not fooled for two reasons. First of all, I mean, just looking at the numbers in and of themselves, they got 7 million people to log on a website and put their name and address. We don’t know how many of them have completed the application, and we don’t know how many of them have paid. Some estimates are that you know, less than 20% have, or about 20% have not even paid. But let’s go beyond that for a moment. The purpose of Obamacare was not to sign up 7 million people to an exchange. The purpose of Obamacare, we were told, was to lower significantly the number of people in this country who were uninsured, which a couple of years ago was estimated at around 38 million U.S. citizens who had no health insurance coverage. Well, if you look at what’s happening now, the vast majority of people signing up for these exchanges were already previously insured. So some estimates are that between 15-20-25% maybe, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, are people that weren’t insured before that now are. So that means you’ve basically diminished the number of uninsured by between two, three, four million, and so you still have a huge, enormous problem of over 30 million people who remain uninsured, but you’ve now disrupted the entire health care marketplace for everybody, everybody, from providers to patients have been inconvenienced, and in some instances, completely disrupted in exchange for this, for you know, lowering the uninsured rate by two or three million people. That’s just not a good trade-off.
HH: Terrible trade-off.
MR: It’s a terrible trade-off.
HH: When Obamacare launched, you actually were the first person to tell me that the Spanish language site was cracked. Have they fixed that? And what are they saying about Obamacare in the Spanish media? I don’t speak the language. You do.
MR: Well, unfortunately, you know, and I think there was a report about this a couple of days ago, Brent Bozelle’s new group that’s calling attention to this. I mean, both of the major Spanish language networks, but Univision in particular, have basically become all-out advocates for Obamacare, trying to get people signed up. I mean, if ABC-CBS-NBC-CNN, anybody were doing that, I mean, there would just be extraordinary amount of criticism. You now have these, look, I think they have a right to do it, it’s a free country, it’s a privately-held company. They can do whatever they want. But I think it’s important to recognize that that’s what’s happening. And it’s unfortunate, because here’s what I think is true. I don’t think people are being told what these plans actually are all about. I think people are going to be shocked when they sign up for this insurance, and then they realize that before they can even begin to use it, they’ve got to come up with thousands of dollars for their deductibles first. And that’s when people are going to figure out what a fraud Obamacare really is.
HH: You know, you mentioned these networks. In Jonathan Alter’s book on the 2012 campaign, he pointed out that President Obama outspent Governor Romney on Spanish language media 12-1. If you’re a candidate for presidency, will you allow that to happen?
MR: I don’t think we should. I mean, look, there’s a lot of people out there that get, and I don’t, I think that’s true for no matter any office we’re running, and look, I do encourage more of my colleagues to go on Spanish language networks, even if they don’t speak Spanish, and communicate, because I think people need to hear directly from us what it is we really stand for, and what it is we’re all about. And as I’ve said, Hispanic-Americans are primarily working-class communities who are trying to get ahead. And those are the people that have been hurt the most. The working class has been hurt the most when it comes to the failed policies of this administration. So not just campaign commercials, but I think appearing on shows, making our arguments, making our case for why what we’re for is better for our country and for people than what they’re for is something we need to do year round, consistently over a sustained period of time.
HH: And a last quick question. The Browns had a great offseason, and we kept Ray Farmer, whom the Dolphins wanted.
HH: The Dolphins didn’t have such a great offseason, Senator.
MR: Who’s that now?
HH: Ray Farmer. You guys wanted him to be your GM, and we kept him.
MR: Yeah, yeah, well, yeah, Ray Farmer’s a talented, quality guy, but you know, we’ve made a move, and we’ve actually, I’m pleasantly pleased with, I’m pleased with some of the moves the Dolphins have made, not as high profile as a year ago, but I think they’re filling some holes there. We’re a better team right now than we were a year ago, at least on paper.
HH: You are an optimist. Senator Marco Rubio, always a pleasure to talk to you. Thanks for joining me.
End of interview.