HH: And a very special day it is, at least in Northeastern Ohio, King James is coming home. LeBron James is back in Ohio, just with the GOP Convention, and I am not one to gloat, except over the whole country. I am not going to gloat over Miami, because I know what it’s like to lose LeBron James. So even though my guest sitting across from me, Senator Marco Rubio, is a Heat fan, I’m actually going to offer you my condolences.
MR: No, no.
HH: Because this has happened to us before.
MR: No, hey, no listen, first of all, I read the article that he wrote, the essay that he wrote in Sports Illustrated. It’s actually very compelling, and I have a lot of respect. But the way I view it is we, he gave us four extraordinary years in Miami, a very special experience. I’m grateful for it. On a personal note, I’ve got to tell you, he allowed me, along with his teammates, to share with my sons memories they’ll treasure for the rest of their life. We had him, we rented him for four years…
MR: And he gave us four straight finals and two championships. And now on a personal level, he has a challenge. He grew into a man in Miami, and that’s the part about LeBron that I don’t think has been covered enough. He came to the NBA as an 18 year old boy, came to Miami and really became a man, became a husband, became a father. He’s expecting a third child, was a great member of the community, really grew in multiple different ways as a businessman, as a member of the community, and certainly as a basketball player, won us two championships, took us to four finals. And now he wants to go home to a community that he desperately wants to bring back a championship to after years of not having it. I respect that a lot, and that’s good. I think that’s, it’s a very compelling story, and I think in hindsight, probably the right decision.
HH: I knew you were going to say that, because I’ve read An American Son, your autobiography, and when you were born in Miami, I think you left at the age of 8, and then you moved to Las Vegas.
HH: And as I recall, you were real glad to go back home to Miami when your family went back.
MR: Yeah, yeah, it was home, you know, and I’m very grateful for the years we spent in Nevada. I didn’t win any championships, but now I will tell you this. I don’t want to rain on your parade. I know it’s a great day. I don’t think the Cavs are nearly as good. I mean, LeBron is great, but I think they’re still missing some pieces. They’re a very young team. But I don’t think that’s why he’s going back. I think he’s, he wants to be, he wants to help bring a championship to a city that hasn’t had one in quite a while.
HH: Okay, now write this down. I know the GOP convention is going to be there, and you may be making a pretty big speech that night. We’ll talk about that in a little bit. But it’ll be on the back to back to back World Series, Super Bowl and NBA championships. What a great setup for the convention.
MR: Well, let me tell you, it might actually screw up the convention, because if the Cavs by 2016 are in the championship, it would be in June. And it could very well conflict with the GOP convention.
MR: So you could have an NBA finals on the same night as the GOP convention in Cleveland.
HH: There are two alternate, I talked to Reince Priebus about this on Monday. He said one, the Cavs might play somewhere else like Columbus, where there’s a great arena, or, and then it makes it a big Ohio deal, or they could do it in July. So they’re negotiating that. It’s a great thing to be in this…
MR: Well, how do you know two years ahead whether they’re going to be in the finals?
HH: Oh, it’s just because Kevin Love’s going to come, and then we’re going to have Love and…we’ll see.
MR: We’ll see.
HH: Now Senator, before I talk…
MR: I don’t want to get into that. There’s no way, listen, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, those, that three is not better than LeBron and Wade and Bosh. It’s just not a better three. Now they do have a better center, so we’ll see.
HH: Andrew Wiggins. Now all right, we’ll focus on foreign affairs for most of this hour, as I told your staff.
MR: I thought this was a basketball show. I didn’t know.
HH: (laughing) It would actually be a lot of fun. And I won’t bring up the Dolphins vis-à-vis Johnny Football coming to Cleveland, either.
MR: By the way, LeBron is managed, or his agency is managing Manziel, so that’s, maybe he didn’t mention that in the…
HH: He didn’t, but he did put out a big tweet with Johnny Football. You’re talking now to, we call the show Johnny Radio now. It’s just natural. I’m going to focus on foreign affairs, but before that, something very serious. The leader of your body, Harry Reid, Democrat Harry Reid, said he wants to repeal the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was passed in 1993. And that year, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, President Clinton signed it, it passed nearly unanimously. And now you have the leader of the Democrats in the legislative side trying to repeal a bill that protects religious freedom of every American.
HH: What do you think about that?
MR: So that’s the new, unfortunately, that is the new battleground in American cultural debate. It’s no longer about whether people have the freedom to live life as they choose. It’s now become about defining certain cultural values as unacceptable, traditional cultural values. And that’s what we’ve gotten to with what’s happening here. Okay, no matter how you may feel about any given issue, the one Constitutional principle that we have had in this country, among others, is not just the ability to attend a church, but the ability to live out in your life, in every aspect of your life, the teachings of your faith. And that’s what’s being protected here, and that’s what he seeks to undermine, is the ability of, if you go back to the Hobby Lobby case, it involves the owners of a family business, a large one, but a family business nonetheless, who personally, on a spiritual and moral principle, objected to paying for, they don’t, they cannot prohibit their employees from buying something. They’re not trying to prohibit or outlaw contraception. They simply don’t want to be forced to pay for something that their faith teaches violates a moral principle. That’s it. And what Harry Reid and his party is arguing is that the government should have the power to force individual Americans to pay for things that they find objectionable because of their religion. If this was a case about Hobby Lobby being able to fire people that work for them who use contraception, that would be a different story. That’s not what we’re talking about here. We’ve got to be very clear. And if you start to think about, and you extend this forward a number of years, you could reach a point in this country where what you teach from the pulpit could be sanctioned, could be condemned, could be criticized. The tenets of a faith could be attacked and so forth, even in a church and so forth, because I don’t think your faith ends at the end of the worship service. If you truly want to live your faith, especially the Christian faith, it impacts every aspect of your life where you work, how you raise your family, and certainly how you worship as well. And there are protections for that in this country and our Constitution that he seeks to ignore. And I think they think they have a political winner. I disagree.
HH: The United States Senator, Marco Rubio, is the one you hear talking here, in case you just joined us, America. Senator Rubio, if in fact that comes to the floor, do you expect all Democrats to vote it? It will never pass the House.
MR: That would be quite interesting. I think there are a number of Democrats in key states, I would imagine in Arkansas and Louisiana, North Carolina and in places like that who would have to be very uncomfortable with having to vote for this politically, but you know, we’re going to, it’ll be, I don’t think it has any chance of passage in the House, and therefore, this is all a political messaging point. I mean, suffice it to say the world is on fire, literally. You are on the verge of all-out warfare between Israel and Hamas. You have an Islamic caliphate being established in Iraq. You have a nuclear negotiation with Iran that is either going to collapse or lead to a horrifying deal. You have an economy that shrank in the first quarter of this year. You have millions of Americans that are as insecure as they’ve been in our lifetime about their economic future. And in the midst of all these challenges, we have veterans that are dying waiting for care. In the midst of all of these challenges, this is what they want to spend the next two out of the three weeks we have left in July in session debating. I mean, that just tells you how unserious Harry Reid and the Democrats are about confronting the challenges of our country. It’s all politics, all the time.
HH: I don’t think they want to talk about anything other than this, because then, the border crisis and Israel comes up…
MR: I left that one out.
HH: Well, we will get to the border crisis. I know that we’ll get to that, and we’ll get to Israel. But I want to start with something that happened yesterday. Last night, the Senate finally passed something that was bipartisan, a resolution you co-authored on maritime security involving what the People’s Republic of China is doing in the Asia Pacific region. And I would like to know if you think your colleagues on the Democratic side will follow that up by helping you get the U.S. Navy built that is necessary to assure the stability that you call for in this resolution.
MR: Well look, the verbal commitment and the written commitment is important, but it doesn’t mean anything if you won’t have the wherewithal to enforce it. now let me explain why this matters. People may say why do we care. Here’s why we care. 50% of global commerce goes through the South China Sea and the East China Sea in the Pacific. Our economy is deeply dependent, we’re 6% of the world’s population. So the way we grow our economy is being able to sell more things to people all over the world. And we take for granted that throughout our lifetime, and especially since the end of the Second World War, there has been freedom of navigation in the international waters because of the U.S. Navy. And traditionally, you didn’t have freedom of navigation on Earth. You had to either elude pirates, or you had countries that would torpedo your merchant ships if you didn’t pay tribute to them. That’s all changed in the last 70 years, and it’s allowed the economy to grow and free enterprise to prosper. What China’s now saying is they own large swathes of the most important shipping lanes on Earth, and they’re beginning to act on it. They have installed, for example, an oil rig in Vietnamese waters. They continue to threaten to invade an island, a rock formation that the Philippines claim. They have an issue regarding the Senkaku Islands in Japan. And so the U.S. Navy doesn’t have the wherewithal to continue to provide the security necessary to allow global navigation in the high seas. Then these words are hollow. So it is interesting in terms of how this administration has continued to hollow out our military capability, because it has dramatic long term impact on our economy.
HH: Now you have Mayport Naval Station in your state, and of course, you know the Navy pretty doggone well as a result. They’re now throwing doubt on whether or not they’re going to replace the Ohio class nuclear submarine.
HH: I mean, that came out this week. And so do you think that when, if the Senate is retaken by Republicans, Defense spending will rise in the next budget?
MR: Yeah, but I think the key to being able to have the money to spend on Defense is twofold. One, you have to have an economy that’s generating growth, and the growth leads to revenue without having to raise tax rates, which would depress revenue. And the other thing that it has to do is you’ve got to bring your spending under control, the drivers of your debt, and that means a serious effort to reform the long term stability of Medicare and Social Security. Those programs, if we want to save them, we need to reform them. And if we don’t, then we won’t have the funds available to spend on our primary obligation of the federal government, our national defense.
HH: I’ll be right back with United States Senator Marco Rubio on LeBron Day.