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This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," October 24, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: As you may know, The Washington Post is raising questions about Senator Rubio's family and his political narrative as a son of parents who fled Castro's Cuba. According to the paper, Mr. Rubio did not accurately put forth a timeline and ginned up his parent's refugee status. Of course, that's a very emotional and touchy issue, so we wanted to hear Senator Rubio's response. Also, will the senator consider a vice presidential run? I spoke with Marco Rubio on Friday.
O'REILLY: All right, senator. The beef The Washington Post has -- and they are making a pretty big deal out of it; I'm not really seeing the great importance of the story -- is that your timeline is off on your family history of coming from Cuba to the United States. Did you mislead anybody in your family history when you talked about it?
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.: Absolutely not. The date that my parents came, I was always under the impression that it was in the late '50s and until very recently I didn't realize that it wasn't.
O'REILLY: They came earlier.
RUBIO: They came earlier for the first time as legal residents to the United States. No special privilege. But here is the point. It's irrelevant to whether they are exiles or not. The day that I was born in May of 1971, my parents could not return to the -- to the nation of their birth unless they were willing to live under communism. In 1956, the opportunities they had in the United States were better than the opportunities they found in Cuba.
O'REILLY: OK, so it wasn't a communist thing for them primarily. They just wanted to come for a better life.
RUBIO: The first time they came, that's correct. Right.
O'REILLY: Right, the first time. And then when they tried to go back, then they saw the chaos that Castro had imposed on the island and then they were lucky enough to get back.
RUBIO: That's correct.
O'REILLY: Most of them couldn't at that point.
RUBIO: Right. And let me say this. They won't find a single credible Cuban-American voice in Miami that will dispute that my parents were exiles.
O'REILLY: And why do you think The Washington Post is making a big deal out of it?
RUBIO: Well, you know, I mean, I don't know. Obviously this is -- reporters have mandates about writing.
O'REILLY: Did they call you before they published the article?
RUBIO: Well, they actually published the article and then they interviewed me.
O'REILLY: So they didn't call you before?
RUBIO: Well they may have called the office before, but they certainly posted the article before they interviewed me and then he added some of my statements into it. I think the bottom line is it misses the point. I don't need to embellish my narrative. My narrative is very simple. I am the son of exiles and of immigrants and that has framed my political thought.
O'REILLY: Some people say The Washington Post wanted to do a hit-job on you because, you know, you are a rising star in the Republican Party, a possible VP candidate under consideration. Do you believe that?
RUBIO: I don't know what -- what their motivations were. I mean, what I care about…
O'REILLY: Are you mad about it?
RUBIO: I'm not mad about it. I just want the record to be straight. Look, if they want to say that I got the dates wrong, they are right. And I admit that. I didn't know, but as soon as I -- but -- but I got the dates wrong. But if they want to say my parents weren't exiles and I misled people about the essence of my personal story, that's not fair. It's outrageous. And I wish -- I really wish they would have corrected their article because I don't think it accurately reflects what I have said or what the essence of my story is.
O'REILLY: You were critical last week of President Obama even after Qaddafi was killed. While some Americans say well, he did the right thing. Why did you remain critical after Qaddafi died?
RUBIO: I'm glad things have worked out the way they did, but here is the problem. We have -- this chaos -- the fact that this is a protracted conflict, the fact that it took so many months.
O'REILLY: Eight months.
RUBIO: Eight months, but here is what happened. A lot of infrastructure has been destroyed in Libya that has to all be rebuilt; 30 some odd militias have now formed. It's going to be a bear to get them to disarm. You have a lot of young men who instead of entering the workforce and rebuilding the country are now young men that need medical rehab, prosthetics because they have been injured in war. The cost of rebuilding the country has gone exponentially high. If the United States had just gotten engaged a little bit earlier and a little bit more aggressively, what happened last week would have happened months ago and it would have cost a lot less money, there would have been a lot less uncertainty. Here is what else happened over the last eight months. Thousands of shoulder-fired rockets have gone missing, and now these rockets are out there capable of shooting down an airplane and we don't know where they're.
O'REILLY: Would you if you were in charge have put American troops in that place?
RUBIO: No, and the Libyans didn't want that.
O'REILLY: So you -- you would have bombed harder.
RUBIO: We would have done a no-fly zone earlier in the process. If the rebels had had a no-fly zone when they asked for it, this thing would have been over in a week.
O'REILLY: All right, so you wanted -- you wanted more aggressive action quicker but not necessarily any more military presence.
RUBIO: Not on the ground. And here is the other thing. NATO has limited capabilities. The British and the French, they worked very hard; they did a very good job. But they don't have the weaponry we have. If we had just stayed in that effort a little bit longer, this thing would have ended sooner as well.
O'REILLY: Now, you are watching the Republican debates, right?
RUBIO: I have some of them.
O'REILLY: Have you seen all 90 of them yet?
RUBIO: No, I haven't seen them all.
O'REILLY: They never end. They just -- did you know there's going to be a new cable channel 24, just debates?
RUBIO: It's like a reality show. Yes.
O'REILLY: Now, when you see these guys on stage and Congresswoman Bachmann, are you like in the flow here?
RUBIO: I have opinions about some of the things they say. It's not that they necessarily got it wrong. It's just that I would have said it differently.
O'REILLY: All right. Who is closest to your opinion of the Republican candidates?
RUBIO: You know, the truth is -- and I know it's going to sound political…
O'REILLY: I know, come on. Who is closest?
RUBIO: Well, they -- no, no, I think they all have elements of things I agree with.
O'REILLY: There's got to be somebody.
RUBIO: Well, for example, I think on the foreign policy realm, I think Mitt Romney is probably closer…
O'REILLY: All right. So Romney on foreign policy.
RUBIO: All right, but you look at but that's probably true of Gingrich who I think is deeply invested in public policy. I have known him for a long time.
O'REILLY: On taxes?
RUBIO: I'm in favor of a flat tax. I have always believed in simplifying the tax code, and I think there are some plans out there to do that, but I'm encouraged that Herman Cain is offering his plan.
O'REILLY: It doesn't hurt to start there.
RUBIO: Well and more importantly it's now forcing other candidates to offer theirs and that's a good thing. If we're going to have a debate in the Republican primary on ideas…
RUBIO: …you know, we're going to win this election in 2012. And I think that's what I hope will be. And that's what these candidates are allowing to have happen is that they are engaging in ideas-driven debate.
O'REILLY: What -- what about them punching each other, you know, Perry and Romney?
RUBIO: Look, do we like to see it? No. But you know the Democrats did it and they ran 50-state primary and it didn't hurt Barack Obama.
O'REILLY: So it doesn't offend you when they go after each other?
RUBIO: It's going to happen. I mean, when does that not happen?
O'REILLY: It's amusing though, right?
RUBIO: I don't know if it's amusing. It's part of the process. I mean, we, look, none of us have to be in politics. We can decide to do something else with our lives.
O'REILLY: But you're a pretty feisty guy. If somebody came up to you and said -- I think you would probably go back at them, wouldn't you?
RUBIO: In the most effective way possible, I suppose.
O'REILLY: You know, sometimes passion is good though.
RUBIO: I think it's important to have the record set straight.
O'REILLY: There is focus on you as a possible VP candidate because Florida obviously is a state that the Republicans have to win. And you are a Hispanic-American and the Republicans have to get the Hispanic to at least consider voting for them this time around. So that's -- you are at the top of pretty much everybody's list. Not saying that they are going to pick you, but you are being considered, all right? What do you think about that?
RUBIO: Well, I'm honored by it, but quite frankly I'm focused on my job on the Senate.
O'REILLY: Yes, that's what everybody says.
RUBIO: No, it's true.
O'REILLY: But no, of course, it's true. You know, you're a senator; they elected you to help them in Florida and you have to.
RUBIO: I haven't even been there a year yet.
O'REILLY: OK, and that's what Christie had in New Jersey.
O'REILLY: But you could get a call. It's very, very possible that you're -- and you're not going to sit here and rule out.
RUBIO: Yes, well let me tell you why I do. No. 1 is because I really -- there are some thing that…
O'REILLY: Are you ruling that out right here on "The Factor"?
RUBIO: Yes, yes.
O'REILLY: I want to get this -- I want to get straight. So no matter who the nominee is for the Republican Party, if they say I would like you, Senator Rubio, to consider being vice president, you are going to say absolutely not, I'm not going to do it?
RUBIO: Yes. I'm going to say I have been here in the United States Senate for about a year. There are some things I want to finish doing here, but I really, really want to accomplish some things in the United States Senate.
O'REILLY: All right, so it's off the table?
RUBIO: It is. It is.
O'REILLY: It's almost shocking. I mean, you are just made for this. You're good on TV. You're absolutely a conservative. You represent Hispanic-Americans in a fine way. And if you could elevate the Republican Party into the White House, you're telling me you wouldn't?
RUBIO: Well, why can't I do that from the Senate?
O'REILLY: Because you can't.
RUBIO: Oh sure you can. Absolutely.
O'REILLY: No, you are one of 100 there.
RUBIO: Yes, but there's a lot of important public policy that's come out of the Senate. The Senate is an important place. We can do a lot of good from there if we focus on it. I believe I can do just as much good in the United States Senate.
O'REILLY: All right. What if we kidnap you and hide you?
RUBIO: Well, that changes everything.
O'REILLY: All right. Well, look, I'm glad you are being honest with the folks. I'm glad you're being honest with them because certainly this is going to be a nasty campaign, and in Florida it's going to be super nasty.
RUBIO: Well, when you have a president whose record is one of making things worse, they have no choice but to make it that way, and that will be unfortunate. The American people deserve better than that.
O'REILLY: I can see you in 10 years, maybe even sooner, running for president yourself.
RUBIO: Or having a show here on Fox.
O'REILLY: You might want to think about that, senator. "The Rubio Factor." Well, I've got to get out of here sometime.
RUBIO: Maybe I could fill in on Fridays.
O'REILLY: It might -- yes, absolutely you can slide right in here. I could see you running for president. The first Cuban-American president. I could see it.
RUBIO: Well, that would be a tremendous honor. You know, obviously that's -- those are things that present themselves down the road.
RUBIO: But, you know, here is the key. Right now it's really important for me at this stage -- 9, 10, 12 months into my career in the Senate to focus on that and -- and not talk about these other things because it starts affecting the way you behave and how you vote and how you do things.
O'REILLY: Very true. Very true.
RUBIO: So there will be plenty of time for those kinds of decisions later on.
O'REILLY: Senator, it's a pleasure to have you in.
RUBIO: Thank you.
O'REILLY: Thanks very much.
RUBIO: Thank you for having me.
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