HH: Joined now by United States Senator Marco Rubio. Senator Rubio, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt show.
MR: Thanks for having me back.
HH: It is good to talk to you. I’ve got a lot to cover with you. I want to begin because you are a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and you have rightly spoken out against Russian meddling in our elections. Do you think a message has been communicated to the Russians that if they mess around with the machinery of our elections tomorrow, there will be virtual hell to pay? Has that been telegraphed to them?
MR: Well, you know, I can’t speak to that directly. I do believe that, I do believe in our intelligence officials saying that there have been, concerning some of the things we’ve seen so far have been the work of some foreign agencies. I’m not sure in the end they’re going to impact the election. And speaking to the Russians in particular, the Russian government, let me be clear, the Putin government, this is a pattern of what they do in many others, like in the former Soviet Republics. This is how they get involved in their elections. They try to interfere with, either embarrass people or interfere in the media. And so there’s a pattern of behavior here. I think it’s something we’re going to have to confront. I do not believe that anyone will be able to disrupt the election tomorrow. American elections are too diffuse. They’re usually run at the county level across 50 states. So there’s basically over thousands of jurisdictions, and I can tell you here in Florida they’re not going to be able to interfere with our elections.
HH: If they try, should there be consequences immediate and obvious?
MR: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely there should be. And of course, we need to make a compelling and clear case to the American people that that’s what happened. You know, we live in an environment today where there’s a lot of skepticism, and whoever, you know, I don’t even want to contemplate that. I really don’t. I would just hope that these things go good. Obviously, I want to win my reelection. And I don’t want Hillary Clinton to get elected. But more important than all of that, in my mind, is that America have elections that everyone can look at and say this is a legitimate election and we acknowledge the results. And so that’s what I expect to see tomorrow.
HH: Agreed. Agreed. Now Senator, last time we talked on the radio, it was right after Orlando as you began to reconsider in the aftermath of that horrific massacre your decision not to run. I’m glad you’re running. You’re winning. You’re ahead in every poll, and you’ve dominated the debates. But even as you have increased your lead, the international situation is crumbling. And in Mosul, it is just a death trap. In Raqqa, it’s a nightmare. How do we communicate to the American people, we’ve got to send you and Kelly Ayotte and Pat Toomey and Ron Johnson back, and Richard Burr and Roy Blunt, because you know, if Secretary Clinton somehow wins this, despite everything that’s happened, she’s got to have serious people checking her in the Senate.
MR: Well, I think it begins with the appointments. Look, I don’t even want to contemplate her winning tomorrow, but no matter who the next president is, one of the reasons why I ran is because I believe the Senate’s proper role is to act as a check and balance on the executive. And that begins almost immediately with nominations to the cabinet. And it’s clear and important that we have to have people in those positions who are serious policy makers who aren’t going to go and make rash or ridiculous statements and/or decisions around the world that are going to hurt this country or lead us in the wrong direction. And then I think also the voice and platform of the Senate criticize measures that should be occurring, that are occurring that aren’t the right ones for our country is a big part of it as well. You look at Raqqa, you look at Mosul, those are important battles. Those are the kind of the key nerve centers for ISIS. But ISIS is not going to disappear once they’re rooted out of those cities. They may become more diffuse. They may find a new place to work from. And they may find it harder to do what they’re doing. But it will be a blow to their international allure, and hopefully, hurt recruiting and fundraising.
HH: Last night, I was asked on MSNBC by Brian Williams what is the meta story of this election, and I came back with the J.D. Vance book, Hillbilly Elegy that I think a lot of Americans feel that the connected class has everything working for it, and that their kids don’t have a chance. I’ve read An American Life, your autobiography. I actually know you’re about as opposite of the connected class as anyone who has gotten to the Senate in recent years. But do you think my critique is what’s going on, that people just feel that it’s a rigged game for their kids? They can’t get the advantages that once were open to anyone?
MR: Well, I think they feel betrayed. They feel betrayed by elected officials who ran for office and seem insulated from the problems in our country. They feel betrayed by the media, who exhibits clear bias. They feel betrayed by institutions of higher education who are sitting on multimillion dollar endowments while charging record amounts in tuition. So our kids are buried under student loan debt. They feel betrayed in a system where for example, veterans struggle to fight off foreclosure, or people on active service aren’t getting paid enough. So we have veterans, you know, service men and women in this country struggling financially. Meanwhile, someone who just got here from another country because of their refugee status is getting thousands of dollars a month in benefits. I mean, the list goes on and on. I mean, people feel betrayed and angry, and I think that it’s true across the spectrum of both political parties. And I can’t blame them, to be honest with you. I think our challenge is how do we take that now and channel it into something that’s good. And I would say one more point. Americans are angry at each other. You’ve reached the point now where it’s not enough to disagree on an issue. I think both sides are guilty of this, although I think the left has perfected it, and that is the argument that they’re going to delegitimize you as a person. If you don’t agree with them on an issue, you don’t even have a right to have an opinion. You’re a bad human being. And that’s infected our political culture to a point now where people get angry. They think they can say whatever they want about each other, and that there aren’t going to be consequences. I don’t think we’ve ever had a political discourse like we do today in this country, and it’s going to make it harder to solve problems.
HH: Oh, the amplifications of the extremes via Twitter and other social media is genuinely gangrenous, and will have to figure out. You can’t, you know, the 1st Amendment is there for a reason, but boy, civility has got to find a way back in. Let me ask you, Senator, about Obamacare. It’s another reason people are upset. It is absolutely failed in many states where in North Carolina, for example, there’s one provider for 85% of the individual market participants. Their premiums went up 24% on top of a 30% increase last year. A lot of people have lost doctors and plans. How in the world is this going to get fixed in any kind of efficient and rapid fashion, because it’s actually getting people sick and dead?
MR: You can’t fix Obamacare. It has to be repealed and replaced with a system. I don’t want to go back to the old one. I think there’s a system that empowers the individual to control their own health care money whether it’s from your employer or whether it’s refundable tax credits, you control your own health care spending, and you can spend it on health care the way you want to spend it, whether it’s a health savings account, insurance from halfway across the country, whatever. I mean, you get to pick how you want to use it. But I don’t think Obamacare can be fixed. And you know, they keep everyone fixated on the premiums, and I think the premiums are a big problem. Don’t take your eye off the deductibles. The deductibles in most Obamacare plans are massive.
MR: Most people on Obamacare, and on an Obamacare exchange, cannot afford the deductibles. They can’t come up with $2,500 or $5,000 dollars. They just don’t have it. And so if you can’t, if you don’t have the deductible, you can’t use the insurance. So basically, you have to spend $2,500 dollars or $5,000 dollars before you can even begin to bill the insurance. Most people don’t have it, so it is an artificial coverage.
HH: It is failed, and I hope there is a resolution quickly on that. Let me turn to the last bit of conversation I had last night. Rachel Maddow expressed what is a widespread sentiment that Director Comey inappropriately interfered with the election. I pointed out that whatever you think of Comey, I didn’t like his standard that he established in the summer, but I thought he acted as he had to act in the past 11 days. It’s Secretary Clinton’s doing. The server is on her. And now we have story after story, the maid story, which is not yet verified out of the New York Post, the Qatar contribution which is verified, the Band memos which have been leaked by the Russians. I mean, does she have anyone to blame but herself, Senator Rubio, for her numbers?
MR: No, no, and Comey did not do anything inappropriate, and it’s amazing that all of these people were lifting him up as a hero two or three or four months ago, and now he’s a villain because they don’t like what he did. It’s exactly what they do with the Court. They love, Democrats and the left love to talk about how the Court has ruled, unless the Court rules different from what they want. Then they argue that the Supreme Court is wrong. But on this issue, Director Comey was responding to a direct inquiry from Congress, period. He didn’t put that out there unilaterally. He was asked a specific question by a committee of oversight, and he responded. And I compare that to the Attorney General, who refuses to answer my question about what she knew and what she authorized when it came to ransom payments in Iran.
HH: Has she not testified before a committee on that subject?
MR: She won’t testify. She won’t even answer a letter on it. She refuses to answer even any basic inquiry about it. Comey was responding to a letter from Jason Chaffetz. That’s what he was responding to. He didn’t hold a press conference. He was responding to a very specific question as he needs to do under our system where they have oversight over his agency.
HH: Your colleague, Senator Grassley, has sent an extended series of questions concerning and raising the possibility of obstruction of investigations at the Department of Justice vis-à-vis the Clinton Foundation. Have you had a chance to review that, Senator Rubio?
MR: I haven’t had a chance to read it in its entirety, but I know that he’s on the case, and they’re going to be aggressively pursuing that here over the next few months. But again, that’s why the Senate election here in Florida is so important. If we don’t have the majority, it’ll be a Democrat chairman of that committee, and I guarantee you that that inquiry will end right there.
HH: Let’s come back to the election after one more question. If in fact the majority holds, you are reelected, as it looks like, and Republicans hold the majority, how difficult should the Department of Justice nomination process be in light of the number of questions about the server and the Foundation and all the leaks that have come out? Ought there to be holds on these nominees until a special prosecutor is appointed?
MR: Well, strategically speaking, I haven’t had a chance to come up with what I think the strategy should be directly, but basically, I do believe that no matter what, we should hold all cabinet appointments to the strictest standards, especially given what we’ve seen over the last few years, and you learn is that people come before the committee. They say whatever the wan. The editorial boards beat you up. You appoint them. And then when they get there, they are exactly what you thought they would be, and do exactly what you thought they would do. So I do believe the standards need to be high. And as far as the inquiries are concerned, I think the American people deserve the truth. One of the functions of a Congress, historically, has been oversight. The Congress has played a key role in oversight throughout the history of this country. It needs to get back to that.
HH: Do we need a special prosecutor on the server and the Foundation, Senator Rubio?
MR: Well, I am not generally a fan of special prosecutors, per se. I think the Attorney General and the Justice Department need to do their jobs. The only reason why you would have one is if there was some conflict of interest. And so I would wait until after this election. We would see then what the result is and move from there. I think generally, there’s pretty strong Constitutional arguments against a special prosecutor, because it almost allows the Justice Department to wash its hands to save it. But I wish they’d just do their jobs irrespective of who’s in charge. But you know, we’ll see. It’s potentially maybe what we need.
HH: Okay, let’s turn to Florida. There’s been heavy early voting. How do you feel about the election? Your opponent has been just, I mean, embarrassed by this process of making claims of doing things he never did, and having careers he never followed. But how do you feel about the early vote and tomorrow?
MR: Well, I feel positive, but people continue to vote. We’ve had record amounts of Floridians vote, and you know, those who are listening to this broadcast in Florida, if you haven’t already voted, I ask you please, make sure you vote tomorrow. You’ve got to come out and vote. It’s that close. You know, it really is. I mean, there’s a one and a half point difference now between the number of Democrats and number of Republicans that have voted. You know, the Democrats have a 1.5% registration turnout advantage in this election. So it’s going to really be on Election Day, everyone will have a chance to hold the Senate here.
HH: Talk to us a little bit about how the Cuban issue is playing out. I know that it’s not, it’s a multi-dimensional Latino community, Hispanic community in Florida. But I’m curious what the Cuban voting community thinks about what President Obama and Secretary Clinton have done and endorsed?
MR: Well, I think among those who have been here for a while and are strong on the position, I think the vast majority of Cuban-American voters oppose the opening. They just do. They see it as a one-sided deal. And even some of the people that supported it see it as one-sided and want to get it reversed, and at least have changes that force the Cuban government to make some changes. Right now, it’s all been one-sided.
HH: Senator Rubio, good luck tomorrow. Come back early and often in your next term as Senator. I’m glad you’re in the race. Good luck, and remember, Florida, Senator Rubio tomorrow needs your help.
End of interview.