Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is one of many Republicans who want your vote in 2016. Get to know your candidate here.
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I’m obsessed with football at every level. From high school to college, even little kids playing because my sons play.
Tell us about yourself.
In terms of why I got into public service, it’s pretty straight forward. I feel like I have a debt that I’ll potentially never repay. My parents were both born into poor families and had little opportunities to get ahead. They came to America. They were never rich or famous here either, but through hard work they were able to achieve home ownership, retire with dignity, and left us with the chance to do all the things they never could. And so I feel like people like that who have been able to enjoy those benefits and those blessings, have a unique opportunity to ensure that we do everything we can so that people trying to do that now have the opportunity to do it as well. And that’s really what led me into public service and ultimately into running for president.
Who should we call for a reference?
I think on a personal level, my wife, who knows me better than anyone in the world. And then beyond it, I think the people of Florida.
What's your greatest strength?
That I believe what I stand for, even though I do so in a way that’s respectful of other people’s views. I understand we’re a diverse society and a free one and I respect people who disagree with me, including on controversial issues. But I honestly believe what I believe, and I don’t believe in these issues for the purposes of judging anyone or for the purposes of winning an election.
What's your greatest weakness?
My wife thinks I have more than one, but, I just think sometimes that fact that because I feel so passionately about what I believe in, you know I find myself talking too fast about it or not spending enough time to go into the details on it. Instead of picking three things to prioritize, I pick five to focus on.
Where do you stand on the following...
We need to be globally competitive. We now live in a global economy and we need policies in taxes, regulations, energy, debt...we need policies that make America the easiest and the best place in the world for the private sector to create millions of 21st century jobs. 21st century jobs pay a lot more than 20th century jobs.
Education and student loans.
Well I [had] student loans. I just paid them off four years ago. When you're in school and you're borrowing this money, you don't really think about what it means later on or what the monthly payments are gonna be like… I'm a supporter of student financial aid....I think we need alternatives to student loans like my student investment plan idea, which allows people to have their college funded through a private entity that invests in you the way they would in a small business. I think for those who already have loans, they should be allowed to pay it back on the basis of how much they make. So the more you make, the faster you pay back your loans. And the less you make, the less of a burden it is.
The Iran Nuclear Deal.
When I’m president, we’ll cancel it on my first day in office. We’ll reimpose the sanctions that are on the books. I’ll ask Congress to increase them on every sector of their economy. And it’ll make it very clear to Iran, If they want a peaceful nuclear program, they have to pursue it the way South Korea does, the way Japan does, by importing the enriched material. And if they try to build weapons, we’re going to destroy their weapons program.
Would you change anything about how the US is handling this whole ISIS thing?
I would change everything about it. For starters, we would lead a coalition with our Sunni allies in the region. And we would support them with with training, with weapons, with airstrikes, with logistical support. And we would embed special operations forces alongside them to help them in that endeavor…That’s much different than what we have now which is limited airstrikes, which have left our allies wondering what our strategy is and has left a vacuum that the Russians are now trying to fill.
What about Syria?
It would have been a lot easier if the president had done what I asked him to do [about Syria] three years ago and that’s to find defectors from the Syrian regime and train, arm, and equip them so that they can be the predominant rebel force on the ground. Because they didn’t do that, this uprising left a vacuum that was filled by radical jihadists.
As a policy maker, the decision I have to make is what do we do about it? And many of the solutions being presented to me won’t have any impact on the climate, other than symbolic. But they will have a deep impact on the economy….I think that if you look at the scientific arguments about [climate change], while there appears to be a scientific consensus that man contributes to it, …[they] don’t know how much of it is due to human activity, and that’s a very big deal. It’s the reason why these ideas they’re presenting to me are ones I can’t jump on board.
I think we have three immigration problems. First, we have to bring illegal immigration under control through more border security by preventing visa overstays through a mandatory e-verify system. After you’ve done that, the second step is we need to modernize legal immigration. And after we’ve done those two things, I think Americans are going to be very reasonable about what you do with someone who’s not a criminal, because if you're a criminal you’ll be deported, but someone who has been here for a good time and has otherwise been a good person in their time here. And I personally argue that those people should come forward, have a background check, pay a fine, start paying taxes, and learn English. And in exchange for that they get a work permit. And that’s all they’ll have for at least 10 years. And then I personally think that after 10 years if they’ve complied with all the conditions, those who want to, should be allowed to apply for a green card through the normal process, not through a special process.
Right to choose. Yes or No?
Well that’s not a yes or no question….I have said repeatedly that I understand how difficult it is, a young 15-year-old girl who finds herself pregnant and she’s scared and she has her whole future is ahead of her. And I don’t in any way diminish that and I do believe women have the right to choose what to do with their own bodies. But in the case of a pregnancy there’s a second person involved and that’s an unborn human being. 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.…in the cases [of rape or incest], they’re terrible tragedies, they’re horrifying. And luckily in the 21st century, we have treatments available early on after an incident that can prevent that fertilization from happening. And that’s why I support the morning after pill being available over the counter and I certainly support them being made available immediately for rape victims.
What do you think of the Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage?
It was wrong constitutionally. Marriage has always been regulated by states, and that’s where it belongs.
What would you ask the white house chef to make for your first meal?
Something Tex-Mex. I love Tex-Mex. I like enchiladas of every kind.
How many times do you hit snooze in the morning?
I don’t, actually. I’m pretty good about that. I usually don’t even wake up with an alarm clock.
How do you take your coffee?
Black. It makes life a lot easier.
Sen. Rubio has been ‘one to watch’ in the GOP for years. He's known for his aggressive foreign policy positions (see: Libya, Syria, Ukraine) and his support for immigration reform. Rubio’s also dealt with criticism over how he’s handled his own personal financial challenges -- which he argues helped him understand the struggles of other Americans. He’s hoping that, plus his Cuban-American roots, will help win votes from young and Hispanic voters who don't usually pull the lever for the GOP. For now, his campaign is reportedly laying low and waiting for the field to thin out. TBD on whether that strategy will win him votes in the end.