HH: Joined now by United States Senator Marco Rubio. Senator Rubio, great to have you, thank you for joining me.
MR: Thanks for having me back on.
HH: I want to begin, you were attacked by name this morning by Secretary of State Clinton. Let me play just the opening of her remark.
HRC: Marco Rubio brags about wanting to deny victims of rape and incest access to health care, to an abortion.
HH: Now she went on to attack Jeb Bush and John Kasich, and then compare you three to terrorist groups in the war on women. How do you respond to that kind of vitriol, Senator Rubio?
MR: Yeah, it’s par for the course for her. Look, she’s a failing candidate, has no credibility, being exposed for being deceitful on the whole issue of her server, compromised the national security of the United States. And quite frankly, she’s been chasing Bernie Sanders and others in her party to the extreme left. So obviously, she’s going to go around saying outrageous things, and I expect more of it in the months to come. We’re going to continue to focus on the future of this country, which is what these elections need to be about, on the fact that we have a chance to build a 21st Century that will be greater than even the 20th Century was, if we do the things we need to be doing. And obviously, that does not include following the policies that she wants, which are a continuation and an expansion of the Obama agenda.
HH: Now Senator Rubio, Mark Steyn was just on, and he said this is a clear moment to find out whether or not the Republicans will push back against the war on women tag, that they’re going to obviously try and hang on you or Governor Bush or Governor Kasich again. And so I ask, are you going to push back at her and bring up these Planned Parenthood videos, because she’s, I mean, no one can defend this.
MR: Yeah, it goes further than that, and obviously, that’s outrageous, and they’re here, you know, the Democrats are threatening to shut down the government in order to fund one organization, which has now been exposed across a series of videos of being involved in what’s probably illegal activity, selling and trafficking fetal tissue. But it goes beyond that. They hold extremist views. I mean, Hillary Clinton voted against the partial birth abortion ban, which an overwhelming majority of Americans support, and she voted against it. She believes that children should be aborted even after 20 weeks of the pregnancy, when it’s clearly a formed human being, obviously still in development stages, but at 24 weeks, survivable outside the womb. She doesn’t believe that the parents of minors should be notified when their daughter is going to have a procedure of the magnitude that is an abortion. These are extremist views. They’re outside the mainstream of the majority of our country. And the press covers up for them, but that’s their extremist views, the one that she holds. She supports taxpayer funding of abortion, using American taxpayer money to fund abortions overseas. We look forward to exposing her extremism.
HH: Senator, you also mentioned that she’s a failing candidate because of the emails. I want to play for you what she said in Iowa yesterday, that you are a very, I will explain it to the American people, you’re read in. That means you have lots of access to lots of highly-compartmented information, Senate compartmented information, that you can only read in a SCIF, which is a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. Here’s what Secretary of State Clinton said yesterday about her emails.
HRC: I’m confident that this process will prove that I never sent nor received any, any email that was marked classified. And I’m going to keep talking about what the American people talk to me about, what’s on their minds.
HH: Now Senator Rubio, that is not the question, whether or not she sent or received email that was marked classified. That’s so Clintonian. You know that that’s not the test of 18 USC 1924.
MR: Exactly. First of all, I’m on the Intelligence Committee, so I know exactly what this means. And I receive intelligence information every day when I’m in Washington, for example. We never receive it by email. And what happened in her case, it doesn’t matter if someone decided to erase or take off the classification because it was more convenient to send it by email. She exposed classified information to foreign intelligence agencies. Whether it was marked classified or not, she either knew or should have known. And if she didn’t know it was classified, it’s impossible to read that information and not know it, because it has all kinds of other markings as well. It’s clear. And to be able, to use a private server to traffic in that information knowing how these foreign intelligence agencies constantly are trying to break into these systems, it’s just the height of irresponsibility. And quite frankly, because it was done deliberately, someone had to erase the classification. It was criminal, and there needs to be a full investigation. But it already tells us something about Hillary Clinton. She’s willing to use deceitful and deceptive language to cover up her tracks, and she’s incompetent. She’s unable to protect sensitive information as Secretary of State. Imagine what that would mean as president.
HH: Senator Rubio, that means, I agree with you, she’s a failing candidate. And Mark Steyn and I were just talking about that. She is going to be out of this race, and that means Vice President Biden’s going to be in it. He’s presided over the Senate for the six years that you’ve been there. If you’re the nominee against him, he will say he is the experience hand in foreign policy, even though former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said he’s been wrong on everything for the last 30 years, I think. And he’s going to point to you with your six years and say you’re not experienced enough. You’re talking about China tomorrow. How will you meet Joe Biden on a debate stage and hold your own on issues of foreign policy and national security?
MR: Yeah, he has a lot of experience on being wrong. He was wrong. He didn’t want to do the bin Laden raid. It’s been documented. He was against the bin Laden raid. I mean, he’s been wrong time and again on issue after issue. He was a huge fan of the reset with Russia. He’s got this personal friendship with the president of China that he brags about, the guy who he told, basically, you know, we talk about human rights for domestic, political purposes, but we don’t really mean it. We don’t really, we’re not going to let human rights get in the way of closer relations between our countries, or get in the way, for example, of discussions over climate change. So Joe Biden is actually a very nice person, but he’s been wrong on every major foreign policy issue before this country over the last 20 years. He would be a disaster as commander-in-chief.
HH: You are talking about China tomorrow, and after the break, we’ll continue to talk a little bit about China. But I want you to preview this for me. This week, Governor Walker called on President Obama to cancel the state visit for President Xi. Tomorrow, what will you say about that state visit, if anything?
MR: Well, it should be downgraded, not cancelled. It’s important for us to continue to confront China on its human rights abuses, on what it does wrong around the world. And I think the visit should be downgraded. They don’t, they’re not deserving of a state dinner, acting as if everything is okay. I mean, this is a country that actively hacked into our government computers and steals secrets from our country.
HH: And so, why downgrade it? What’s the message that is sent by doing that?
MR: The message that is sent is that this is not business as usual. We have serious problems with the way China’s conducting itself, not just in cyber warfare, but what it’s doing in the South China Sea, the most important shipping lane in the world. 50% of global commerce goes through there. They are literally building islands so that they can stake their claim, a legitimate claim, including directly challenging our allies like Japan in the Senkaku region. So to somehow pretend that this is a nation that we should be treating as if everything’s okay, I think, sends a terrifying message to our allies in the Asia Pacific region who already have significant doubts about whether we’re going to put better relations with China ahead of our alliances in that region.
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HH: Senator Rubio, the only alternative the Democrats have to Joe Biden is Secretary of State John Kerry. And he could enter the race clutching the Iranian accord like Chamberlain did the Munich, returning in victory. It doesn’t look like you are going to be able to muster the votes, the Republicans, to defeat this in the Senate.
MR: Well, first of all, that may or may not be the case. Unfortunately, a lot of Democrats have decided to walk the plank on a partisan agenda here. And they’re going to live with the consequences of this vote for the rest of their lives and their careers. And they’ll have to answer for it. But here is the bigger point. This is not a treaty. It’s not even binding law. It is basically the president deciding to use a national security waiver authority to suspend sanctions on Iran that are already on the books. When I’m president, on my first day in office, we will reinstitute those sanctions. We’ll lift the waiver. And in fact, I’ll ask Congress to increase those sanctions. And I’ll let Iran know very clearly that as long as they’re spinning centrifuges and sponsoring terrorism, you will face American economic sanctions against your economy, and against anyone who does business with you. And if you try to build a weapon, you will face the United States military force. And it is that combination of increased sanctions and the credible threat of military force, it is the only way we are going to be able to prevent a nuclear Iran.
HH: Back to China, Senator Rubio. The Governor of Ohio, John Kasich, said we need 15 carrier groups. If you’re going to suggest being strong against China in the South China Sea tomorrow, we’re going to need more ships, right?
MR: We do, because one of the arguments that the Obama administration makes is we don’t need as many ships, because our Navy and our new ships can do a lot more, like the littoral combats and so forth. And that’s true. They’re more capable. But they can’t be in two places at once. And we’re an international force that needs to be able to project power in multiple theaters – the Asia Pacific region, but also in the Mediterranean, in the Persian Gulf region, as well as in the Caribbean and the Atlantic. So we have a global footprint. We need quantity, because you can’t be in two places at once. So for three months out of the year, we don’t even have an active carrier in the Asia Pacific region. When I was there early last year, there were no carrier operating. So we at least need 12, just to be able to do these sorts of things, and to permanently position two carrier groups in the Asia Pacific region at a time of increased tensions there.
HH: I look forward to the specifics tomorrow. I do want to cover a little politics with you before I lose you. Donald Trump was on yesterday, and we talked about his Jorge Ramos exchange. Some are worried that Donald Trump is doing permanent damage to the Republican brand among legal Americans of Hispanic descent. What do you think about the exchange with Ramos? What do you think about that worry?
MR: Well, look, I’ve been on the other side of the Univision scorn as well. I mean, they did a smear piece on my family about six months into my Senate career that I thought was completely unfair, and quite frankly, lacked all journalistic integrity. I have my own problems with them, and quite frankly, with their style of journalism, which I say lightly. That said, I don’t believe that there’s permanent damage to the brand stuff. I mean, obviously, Donald Trump is a well-known individual, he has his own opinions, his own ideas. Obviously, he struck a nerve in America, and people are responding at this stage in the campaign. But our party is going to be defined by the nominee, by who it is we nominate. And I honestly believe that when it’s all said and done, our nominee is someone who is realistic and understands the concerns people have about our challenges, but is also optimistic about what we can achieve about our opportunity. We’re still the greatest nation on Earth. There’s still no country in the world I would trade places with. We face some significant challenges, many of our own government’s doing. If we confront them, and we solve them, and we’re capable of solving them, there’s no reason why the 21st Century can’t be greater than the 20th. There’s no reason why we can’t have another American century.
HH: Now Senator, I believe the 14th Amendment is clear, but a lot of good conservative scholars don’t, and some want to put forward law to challenge the interpretation. I do not support that. Would you support the legislation that would attempt to change the understanding of birthright citizenship in the 14th Amendment as is currently understood? Or would you support amending the 14th Amendment to change that?
MR: No, it’s my opinion that the 14th Amendment is pretty straightforward and clear, and any effort to overturn it just aren’t going to meet with success. I think the better approach, what we really should be doing, is making it harder for people to come here illegally, and harder for people to overstay visas. The other thing we need to be doing is changing our legal immigration system so that it’s merit-based, not family-based. People have pointed to the fact that once someone is born in this country, in 21 years, they can claim their relatives. And so you go to a merit-based system. That’s less likely to happen. And I think if you have an E-Verify system, a mandatory E-Verify system, you truly secure the Southern border with a wall, with the sensors, the drones, the technology that it takes to do it, including the personnel, and you also put in place an entry-exit tracking system to prevent visa overstays. That will have an impact on what is happening now, which is…
HH: To be clear, though, you oppose, to be clear, you oppose trying to change birthright citizenship either by statute or amendment?
MR: I don’t support it. Yeah, first of all, I don’t think you can do it by statute, because, and I don’t support efforts to repeal the 14th Amendment. I support efforts to make it harder for people to come here illegally in this country.
HH: Senator Rubio, I look forward to reading the speech tomorrow. Thank you for joining me today. Marco Rubio on Twitter, @MarcoRubio, thank you, Senator. I’ll see you at the Reagan Library, if not before.
End of interview.