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Jun 162013
 

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — During an exclusive interview on ABC’s This Week, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio criticized President Obama for not intervening sooner in Syria’s civil war, saying the inaction has led to the “worst possible scenario” in the war-torn country.

“It behooved us to kind of identify whether there was elements there within Syria fighting against Assad that we could work with, reasonable people that wouldn’t carry out human rights violations, and could be part of building a new Syria. We failed to do that. This president failed to do that,” Rubio told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl.

“The fact that it’s taken this White House and this president so long to get a clear and concise policy on Syria has left us with the worst possible scenario right now,” Rubio added.

“So now your options are quite limited. Now the strongest groups fighting against Assad, unfortunately, are al Qaeda-linked elements. That doesn’t mean that they all are, but it certainly — this group has become the most organized, the best armed, the best equipped. Our options are now really narrower than they were a few months ago,” he said.

The United States will provide arms to Syrian rebels after determining this week that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons. President Obama has said the use of such weapons would cross a “red line.

More than 90,000 people have died in Syria since March of 2011 according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, while the Obama administration estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from chemical weapons attacks in the country.

Rubio was also asked by Karl if he supported his own immigration bill, which he helped author with the “Gang of Eight” members in the Senate.

“Obviously I think it’s an excellent starting point and I think 95 — 96 percent of the bill is in perfect shape and ready to go,” Rubio said. “But there are elements that need to be improved,” citing the border security portion of the current bill.

The immigration bill currently in the Senate will need some Republican support in order to overcome a potential filibuster. Many in the GOP want to see the border security measures in the bill strengthened before they would consider supporting it.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Apr 142013
 

Michael Bonfigli /The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Days before a bipartisan immigration bill is scheduled to be presented, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida argued Sunday morning on This Week that a key provision of the bill, the so-called “pathway to citizenship” for undocumented workers, would not give anything away and said it would in fact be cheaper for undocumented workers living in the U.S.  to become citizens if they left the country first and then applied for legal status.

“All we’ve done here is create an alternative to that that they can access, and the alternative we’ve created is going to be longer, more expensive and more difficult to navigate,” Rubio said. “It will actually be cheaper if they went back home, waited 10 years, and applied for a green card.  And so, secondly, we’ve not awarding anything.  All we’re giving people the opportunity to eventually do is gain access to the same legal immigration system, the same legal immigration process that will be available to everybody else.”

Rubio, who is seen as a key figure holding the bipartisan Senate group known as the “Gang of Eight” together, said that some of the undocumented workers currently in the country would not be eligible to seek legal status under the bill.

“I think it’s important to understand it does not give anything.  It allows people access to the legal immigration system,” Rubio said. “Number two, some people won’t qualify.  They haven’t been here long enough; they’ve committed very serious crimes.  They won’t be able to stay.  Number three is all people will get is an opportunity to apply for things, to apply for a legal status, which isn’t awarded on day one … The only thing you are earning here is an opportunity to apply for temporary status, and ultimately, potentially to apply for a green card, the way everybody else does.  And that’s the process that we are outlining.”

ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl also asked the Florida senator about the Senate vote Thursday that overcame a Republican filibuster to allow debate to proceed on possible gun legislation. Rubio slammed a plan being supported by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania that would expand background checks.

“Criminals don’t care about the laws that we pass with regards to guns.  They never follow the law.  That’s why they’re criminals,” Rubio said. “Look, here is the bottom line.  I think everyone is in favor of any law that could effectively keep criminals or dangerous people from getting access to guns.  The problem is that all these laws that people are discussing will not effectively deal with that problem, but will infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. And so, what we need to look for is a compromise that actually accomplishes that, that does not infringe or place additional burdens on law-abiding citizens, and in fact is effective at keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people, and that begins by enforcing it.”

Rubio went on to say that the country has missed a “golden opportunity” to discuss the problem of violence in our society.

“This debate about guns, we are missing a golden opportunity to have the real debate we should be having, and that is a debate about violence,” Rubio said. “Guns are what they’re using to commit the violence, but the problem is violence, and no one is focusing on why this society has become so violent, why young people in America are committing these horrifying acts, and we are missing a golden opportunity to discuss that, and not simply just focus on gun laws that only law-abiding people will follow.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Apr 142013
 

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio Sunday morning slammed Jay-Z over his recent trip to Cuba, saying on This Week that the rapper needed to “get informed” and that he missed an opportunity to meet the politically oppressed people that live on the island nation south of Florida.

“I think Jay-Z needs to get informed.  One of his heroes is Che Guevara.  Che Guevara was a racist.  Che Guevara was a racist that wrote extensively about the superiority of white Europeans over people of African descent, so he should inform himself on the guy that he’s propping up,” Rubio said during an interview with ABC News’ Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl.

“Secondly, I think if Jay-Z was truly interested in the true state of affairs in Cuba, he would have met people that are being oppressed, including a hip-hop artist in Cuba who is right now being oppressed and persecuted and is undergoing a hunger strike because of his political lyrics,” Rubio added. “And I think he missed an opportunity.  But that’s Jay-Z’s issue.”

After returning from Cuba last week, Jay-Z produced a new rap entitled “Open Letter,” in which he criticized politicians for questioning his trip with his wife Beyoncé to the communist nation. The trip was authorized by the Treasury Department under a licensed program that encourages “meaningful contacts” with the Cuban people.

Rubio, who is of Cuban descent, criticized current U.S. travel policy to the island, which he said was being run by a “tyrannical regime.”

“The bigger point is the travel policies.  The travel policies need to be tightened because they are being abused,” Rubio said. “These are tourist trips, and they are – what they’re doing is providing hard currency and funding so that a tyrannical regime can maintain its grip on the island of Cuba, and I think that’s wrong.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Feb 222013
 

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rand Paul may not be perfect together but they are perfect in the eyes of the American Conservative Union.

Rubio from Florida and Paul from Kentucky were given a “perfect 100 percent” score for their voting records, earning them the group’s coveted “Defenders of Liberty” designation.

The American Conservative Union, which is sponsoring next month’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) featuring 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, based their ranking on lawmakers’ votes regarding fiscal, foreign and social policies.

Rubio and Paul have both been mentioned as possible Republican standard bearers in 2016.  While Rubio has been coy about his long-range intentions, Paul has indicated he might seek the Republican nod.

On the other side of the scale, the American Conservative Union gave Democrats Chuck Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Al Franken of Minnesota and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid a “zero percent” score, designating them as “true liberals.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Feb 192013
 

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama made his first direct overture to Republicans on immigration Tuesday night, placing calls to the three key GOP players on the issue in the Senate:  John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Marco Rubio (Fla).

The calls followed a remark by Rubio calling a White House immigration plan that leaked over the weekend “half-baked and seriously flawed.”

Rubio says he appreciated the call (though he may have been roused from bed to take it; he’s in Israel):

“Senator Rubio appreciated receiving President Obama’s phone call to discuss immigration reform late tonight in Jerusalem,” according to a statement from Rubio’s office. “The Senator told the President that he feels good about the ongoing negotiations in the Senate, and is hopeful the final product is something that can pass the Senate with strong bipartisan support.”

Earlier Tuesday, Rubio’s office told reporters there had been no immigration policy discussion between the senator and the White House.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney disputed that, however.

“We have been in contact with everybody involved in this effort on Capitol Hill,” he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio