March 28, 2012

Marco Rubio endorses Mitt Romney on 'Hannity'

Guests: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," March 27, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And there is no better way to describe my next guest as a rising star. Now, from the moment that Senator Marco Rubio hit the political stage, America took notice and so did the Republican Party. And with the GOP primary still very much unsettled, he is here tonight with perspective on what lies ahead for the Republicans and much, much more.

Joining me now, Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Senator, welcome to the program, good to see you again.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.: Thanks for having me on.

HANNITY: You know, one thing as I watch what is happening in the country right now, and I have concluded this one thing. Because we are all paying very close attention. I think this is a defining moment. We have a Supreme Court debate. Very profound issues in terms of the economy, unemployment, record debt, foreign policy issues. The country's divided. I think one of the real reasons, it seems the administration is -- that's their strategy in many ways because they can't run on their record.

RUBIO: Yes, that's right. This is a president that can't run on his record. I mean, if you look at everything, I mean, your home prices are down, your gas prices are up, unemployment is up, the debt is up. And so this is not a president that can run on his record. So, when you can't run on your record, you want the election to be about other things. And one of the things the president's made a deliberate decision on is he's going to deliberately divide the American people against each other in a calculated effort to get to 50 percent plus one. And that's why I think it's so critical that the quicker we can get this campaign on that focus, focused on the president's record, on the alternative that we offer, the better off we are going to be as a movement but also better off the country's going to be.

HANNITY: How concerned are you, because the question keeps coming up, that the longer this drags out -- meaning the Republican primary -- that might make it more difficult for the eventual nominee. Do you agree with that argument or you think maybe it's healthy?

RUBIO: No, I don't have a problem with primaries. But I think we are at a stage now where at least two of the candidates have openly admitted, that the only way they're going to be able to win the nomination is to have a floor fight in Tampa in August. I don't think there is anything good about that. I mean, there is no way that anyone can convince me that having a floor fight at the convention in Tampa in August is a recipe for victory in November. On the contrary, I think it's a recipe for disaster.

So, I just don't think that's a wise route to go. I think we've had a very good primary, I think all the candidates have a lot to be proud of. I think it's evidently and increasingly clear that Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee.

HANNITY: Well, up to this point, you had not jumped into the primary race. Are you endorsing Mitt Romney then?

RUBIO: Well, I am going to endorse Mitt Romney and the reason why, it's not only because he's going to be the Republican nominee, but he offers at this point, such a stark contrast to the president's record. I mean, look at the president's record. This is someone who has run the country, not very well over the last three years but has no experience beyond that, doing that. At the same time, he has no experience with the private sector or the free enterprise system.

And Mitt Romney, we have a candidate, an alternative, that in addition to being successful as a governor running an important state in this country, has also been successful in the private sector and offers a very clear alternative to the direction this president is going to take our country.

So, look, I think all the candidates in this race have a lot to be proud of, they've offered a lot to the debate. But I just can't buy into this idea that by their own admission, they are saying the only way they can win this race is by having a floor fight in Tampa in August. And I think that's a recipe to deliver four more years to Barack Obama and our country -- forget about the Republican Party, our country cannot afford that. So we have to come together behind who I think has earned the nomination, and that's Mitt Romney.

HANNITY: You know, your name is often mentioned, Senator, as somebody that would be on anybody's short list, and now tonight, you've endorsed Mitt Romney.

Have you spent any time talking with him -- and how well do you feel you know him? One of the issues that came up in the campaign, that there was some doubt among conservatives, you have been a strong Tea Party advocate and the Tea Party loves you, supports you. Your name keeps getting mentioned.

RUBIO: Well, three things about that, Sean. The first thing is I have known Mitt Romney since 2007 when he first ran for president. I have had conversations with him throughout this process, never about vice president or anything like that. We have discussed that extensively, you and I, on the air.

But I think what -- here's what I would say to people who are concerned about it. Number one, this primary has been excellent primary because it's made the candidates take very strong positions on issues that we can hold them accountable to.

I have zero doubt in my mind of two things. Number one, that Mitt Romney will govern as a conservative and number two, that he will be head and shoulders better than the guy who's in the White House right now.

And that's what we need to understand, that this election is not just any other election. This is really a fundamental choice between the very identity of our nation, and I'm telling you, if we have four more years of Barack Obama, it will tell potentially redefine the identity of our nation from an exceptional country to one that struggles to recapture all the things that made the last century the American century.

HANNITY: You know, Senator, having asked you that question a number of times. I am not asking to you commit tonight, but does it give you reason to pause or at least leave open the door that, you know, if your country and if a presidential candidate calls on you because they are asking you to serve because they see the leadership qualities in you that maybe you don't even see in yourself, do you think you have an obligation to at least leave the door open?

RUBIO: Well, I, as I said, I am very honored and privileged to serve this country in the United States Senate and to represent the state of Florida in the United States Senate. That's where my heart. That's where my mind is. That's where my focus is.

I don't believe I'm going to be asked to be the vice presidential nominee. That's not what I intend to be, that's not what I want to be and that's not what is going to happen. What I will do is I work very hard for Mitt Romney as the nominee of our party because I think he is going to offer a very clear alternative -- he is already offering a very clear alternate to a disastrous presidency.

Look, I know that sometimes we get a little overheated in politics. All those things aside, OK, I have no personal animosity towards the president, who by all accounts is a very good father and a very good husband.

But he's not a very good president. In fact, he's been a disastrous president, who's taking our country in a direction that will fundamentally set us back in a way that may take a generation to undo.

So we have an obligation to work on behalf of the nominee, Mitt Romney, to ensure that not only is Barack Obama defeated, but that we put in place policies that will allow this century to be an American century as well.

HANNITY: We did have a funny moment together. You were speaking in Naples, Florida, and you were gracious enough to introduce me when I came in the room and I was like 5 minutes late. You were already speaking and I said, I'm sorry, Senator, excuse me, Mr. Vice President. I don't know if you remember what the reaction was, but it was one of -- I believe it was a standing ovation. I think people liked that.

RUBIO: Yes, look, I'm always honored by that. You know that. But we have a lot of work to do here in the Senate. God willing in November, we are going to win the White House.

HANNITY: All right, Senator, we always appreciate it. Senator Marco Rubio endorsing Governor Mitt Romney tonight.

Content and Programming Copyright 2012 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2012 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.