This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 10, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: It is a bare knuckle slugfest in Florida. The Republican primary for the United States Senate is rough and only getting rougher. Florida Governor Charlie Crist went "On the Record" Monday night, and tonight Governor's Crist's opponent is here. Former Florida Speaker of the House Marco Rubio joins us live.
Good evening, Mr. Rubio.
MARCO RUBIO, FORMER FLORIDA SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: How are you Greta? Thanks for having me.
VAN SUSTEREN: I'm very well.
Just for starters, how are the polls? I understand that the polls are certainly in your favor tonight in Florida, and substantially so.
RUBIO: Well, it is good news. But the truth is, I didn't pay a lot of attention to these polls or get excited when we were 30 points down, so we are not going to get excited when we're 30 points up.
This is an election that's five months away. I'm running against somebody in Charlie Crist that's willing to say or do anything to win. So we know this election will be a tough one, and we'll continue to work hard.
That's why we pulled off of I-95 to talk to you in Daytona just a block away from the speedway.
VAN SUSTEREN: I'm delighted that you did.
You said Mr. Crist will say anything. He was on our air the other night. He said that you used a credit card that did not belong to you, and that you used it to pay for a haircut and maybe a back wax. Did you do that?
RUBIO: That's just a weird statement, it is bizarre. The United States is facing trillions of dollars in debt --
VAN SUSTEREN: Is that a "no"?
RUBIO: I'm sorry? The answer is "no," but that's a bizarre statement. The whole thing is weird.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did you use a credit card belonging to someone else or some other organization to pay for a personal expense?
Here's what needs to be understood. Any personal expense for the few items I got on that charge card I paid for personally and immediately, so the answer is absolutely not. It is false.
And by the way, that's not what this election is about. We are talking about a country that owes trillions of dollars in debt, and my opponent wants to talk about how cheap his haircuts are. That's ridiculous.
VAN SUSTEREN: Because he spoke to it, I wanted to get your side.
Let's talk about the state of economy. That seems to be where this race really divides. You have been using the poster child of your campaign a hug in which the government hugged President Obama last February about the stimulus bill. You've used that picture, and symbolically, what is your point?
RUBIO: The point is that it's a failed policy. Florida today just announced it has the highest employment rate in its history. The stimulus has failed. Now my children and their generation owe over $800 billion in debt they are going to have to pay off by paying exorbitant tax rates.
It was a failure, it was the wrong policy. And had he been in the U.S. Senate, Charlie Crist would have been one of only three Republicans to vote for that plan. He should have supported the alternative like all the Republicans in the Senate were trying to get passed.
VAN SUSTEREN: Has the stimulus plan had any benefit in your state?
RUBIO: Not that we've seen. I told you, unemployment today is higher than ever in our history. Across this country we are losing thousands of jobs every month. The stimulus was destined to fail. Opponents said it was going to fail, and that's exactly what happened.
And now the only thing we are left with is the debt our children will have to work their whole lives to pay off. It's wrong.
VAN SUSTEREN: I guess there are two considerations. One is whether or not a Senator Crist would have voted in favor of stimulus. And I guess that by virtue of the hug maybe you can assume he would.
But having been passed by the United States, if were you governor, I realize you are running for senator, if you were governor would you have accepted that money from the federal government?
RUBIO: Greta, that's not the point. No one is criticizing any governor for accepting the money. The criticism is in supporting it when there were other items on the table, like meaningful tax cuts, things that the other Republicans were proposing in Washington D.C.
And Charlie Crist came along and campaigned with President Barack Obama in favor of the stimulus and cut the legs out from underneath the Republicans trying to offer an alternative, something Jeb Bush in Florida called "unforgiveable."
VAN SUSTEREN: What else divides from you Governor Crist in terms of policies or how you approach this campaign?
RUBIO: It is hard to tell sometimes because he doesn't talk a lot about a policies or principles. But to the extent that I can see --
VAN SUSTEREN: That was a jab.
RUBIO: What's that?
VAN SUSTEREN: I said you jabbed him. That's what we see, this jabbing back and forth between the two of you. You have the upper end because you are 30 points up, and he got you with the back wax. You say that didn't happen, and now you just jabbed him a little bit yourself.
RUBIO: Look, the differences are clear. Number one, he supported raising taxes, broke his pledge never to raise taxes here in Florida.
But here's the big difference -- the next United States senator from Florida needs to be someone that is going to Washington, D.C., stand up to Barack Obama's agenda, and offer an alternative. Charlie Crist is not going to do that because just a year ago he was campaigning for the Barack Obama agenda.
I will stand up to that agenda and offer and alternative, and I think that's why our campaign has grown in its support.
VAN SUSTEREN: Others have offered alternatives. We had Congressman Paul Ryan from Wisconsin on last night, and he offered an alternative to the president at the summit. Apparently it fell on deaf ears. How would you be sure your alternative would be heard and have an impact?
RUBIO: First of all, just to point out, Representative Ryan supports my candidacy and I'm grateful for his support. I think his roadmap is a great starting point and a really good idea.
What I hope to do is be a part of a number of people that get elected in 2010 with a very clear mandate -- stop the direction this administration wants to take our country and offer a clear alternative like those ideas offered by Representative Ryan and his roadmap -- entitlement reform, taxes that -- tax rates and tax policy that once again encourages growth in the American economy.
These are the things we should be focused on -- freezing discretionary spending.
VAN SUSTEREN: What about the Tea Party movement. Are their Tea Party supporters of you? Do you have much of a movement in the state of Florida?
RUBIO: It is a strong movement across America. It is important that people understand what the Tea Party movement is. It is largely everyday Americans, many of whom have never participated in the political process who are watching what is happening in Washington, D.C. and speaking out because they can't sit back and watch any longer.
And they want people who are going to Washington and stand up for this agenda. That's why I'm running for the U.S. senate, because quite frankly, in this race, I'm the only candidate that will.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Rubio, it seems like you would have to work hard to lose at this point because you are so far ahead.
Nonetheless, I realize that races are fluid, but do you have any sort of thought -- I hear there are rumors in Florida that Governor Crist, should he lose to you, is he will run as an independent. Do you hear anything about that?
RUBIO: That's a decision he has to make. The law won't permit him to do that, by the way. Whether he wants to become a Democrat or independent, that's a decision he has to make.
I can assure you he's probably going to do whatever is in the best interests of his political career. I'm focused on running and trying to give Republicans and ultimately all Floridians a voice in Washington that will stand up to this agenda and offer a clear alternative. That's what my campaign is about.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Rubio, thank you. And of course we'll be watching this campaign because it certainly has caught everybody's attention. Thank you, sir.
RUBIO: Thank you.Content and Programming Copyright 2010 Fox News Network, Inc. Copyright 2010 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 Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.