Florida Senator Marco Rubio joined me on the program this morning to discuss Sunday’s terrorist attack on the gay nightclub in Orlando:
HH: A second ISIL-affiliated propaganda site claimed responsibility for yesterday’s massacre. I’m joined from Florida by United States Senator Marco Rubio. Senator Rubio, welcome, my sympathy for your state and for the victims of the shooting. Any doubt in your mind that this is at least ISIS-inspired?
MR: I have no doubt, and I think it’s important for us to start, we have to end this distinguishing between ISIS-directed and ISIS-inspired. It doesn’t matter. It’s kind of the same thing. I mean, and one of the things that ISIS has figured out is you know, we don’t need to bring people all the way to Syria and train them here. We have the ability using social media and the internet to inspire people and direct them to take action. And the way they do it is to basically put out, and telling people look, if you want to get involved in fighting on behalf of the Islamic State, you don’t have to come to Libya. You don’t have to come to Syria. You don’t have to come to Iraq. All you have to do is conduct an attack, and they list a menu of options, to get in your truck and run over a bunch of people at a park, build a bomb, here’s the instructions, go to a sporting event or a soccer game and shoot people up. I mean, this is, they put this stuff out there of suggested ways to attack. So this is part of their direction. They are directing people to do it, whether they met them or not. And in in the end, it doesn’t matter. 50 people are dead. And it doesn’t matter whether they told them to do it…
HH: There’s a report this morning in Fox News that Marcus Dwayne Robertson is a radical imam in the Orlando area, and he is tied to the killer. Have you read that report? Do you credit it?
MR: Well, I think we have to be very careful when we’re saying the names of people, because we need to be able to prove it. The bottom line, we know he’s been a member of a mosque for a significant period of time in Fort Perce, Port St. Lucie area. I think that’s what the FBI is going to look at over the next couple of days, audit his phone. They’ll look at his computer. They’ll look at any, you know, links around him and see who is that was radicalizing him, or who he was coordinating with, because birds of a feather flock together. There might be others related that are having similar ideas in Florida. So we’ll learn more in the next few days, and I’m confident that the authorities will find who they are and go from there. But you know, in America, radical speech is not a crime. And that’s one of the challenges we face. You can stand all day long and call for all kinds of jihad. It’s only when you actually move towards plotting and acting on it that you become actionable and arrestable, and these guys know that. And they use it against us.
HH: Yesterday, the President did not use the term radical Islam. Neither did Secretary of State Clinton, former Secretary of State Clinton. Ought they to be using that term, Senator Rubio?
MR: They should. They really should, and you know, I don’t want to politicize this because of the terrible tragedy, and one of the great things that we saw in response to this was the unity in a community and Orlando. Everybody put aside political differences. But it’s important. You know, and it’s not a slight on non-radical Muslims. You know, there was a couple of members of the Muslim community there at the site condemning it. There are patriotic Americans that happen to be Muslims. And we’re not talking about, and they’re in many ways victimized by this as well, because it’s their faith that’s been hijacked by these radical lunatics. But we have to use that term. We cannot ignore the fact that’s what’s motivating these people. It’s not a political ideology. It is a religious, spiritual, warped ideology that calls on them to kill the infidel, which in their mind is anyone who doesn’t agree with them on everything. The infidel includes, you know, includes Sunnis that won’t live by their rules, and of course, Christians and gays and lesbians, and women and anyone, women who drive. I mean, this is, we’re dealing with an ideology motivated by an interpretation of a faith. We can’t ignore it.
HH: Does this horror change in any way your resolve not to seek reelection, Senator?
MR: You know, I haven’t even given it thought in that perspective other than to say that I’ve been deeply impacted by it, and I think when it visits your home state, and it impacts a community you know well, it really gives you pause to think a little bit about, you know, your service to your country and where you can be most useful to your country. We live in a very dramatic moment in our history. I think we’re at a tipping point here moving into the next election. Irrespective of who the next president is, I think we’re going to face some real foreign policy challenges, given some of the things both of the candidates have outlined. So you know, obviously I haven’t thought about it from a political perspective, but it most certainly has impacted my thinking in general about a lot of things.
HH: Now that I ask, will you at least consider it again?
MR: Well, obviously I have a couple of things in play. It’s not part of our plan as a family. And certainly wasn’t part of, I have a friend of mine who is running for the U.S. Senate. So I want to be fair, Hugh. I haven’t thought about it in that context. I really don’t want to link the two things right now, because I don’t want politics to intrude in all of this…
HH: I understand, but…
MR: But suffice it to say that…
HH: …there are people who know this issue. You are one of them.
MR: Well, as I said, my family and I will be praying about all this, and we’ll see what I need to do next with my life in regards to how I can best serve.
HH: Senator Rubio, I appreciate that. I hope it leads you to stay in the United States Senate. Very few people know this issue as you do, and I hope your service extends.
End of interview.