OTR Interviews

After Maiden Speech Before the Senate, Rubio Deflects 2012 VP Rumors

Freshman senator from Florida reflects 'New American Century,' first address to the Senate floor and more


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 14, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Today was Senator Marco Rubio's big day in Washington. The freshman senator made his maiden speech before the United States Senate. Of the 16 senators elected last fall, he is the last to give a first official speech.

So what did he have to say? Earlier today, Senator Marco Rubio went "On the Record."


VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you.

More On This...

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.: Nice to see you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Today was your big day, maiden speech on the Senate floor.

RUBIO: We wanted to have something to say. It gives a vision on what we want our term to be about. My family was able to come here.

VAN SUSTEREN: Who is here?

RUBIO: My wife and our four kids and friends from back home are here this week. My kids, the girls are old enough to kind of understand a little. The boys they saw me working. Curious about what I do up here. They got for the first time to see that, so it was good.

VAN SUSTEREN: A little nervous?

RUBIO: You want to do a good job in expressing what you feel. I don't know if it was nervous, maybe anxiousness. The weight hits you, standing on the floor in the United States Senate in the greatest republic in human history and you have an opportunity to be part of it. Once you get going like anything else the butterflies go away.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why did you wait until now? It is almost six months into --

RUBIO: We've been involved on issues. In terms of giving a speech on the floor we wanted to wait for a moment where we felt we had a good message that gave framework to what I hope my term will be about. Traditionally some people have taken two years to do it.

So we waited five months and a week to do it, something like that we thought was appropriate. Also, by the time we were ready the Senate had long recesses, two weeks around Easter, another after Memorial Day. The timing was perfect because my kids were out of school.

VAN SUSTEREN: I want to take away lines from it. It says there is nothing wrong with our people, but our government is broken.

RUBIO: It is. Our people are as great as they've ever been. Americans haven't forgotten how to create jobs or run out of ideas. But we do have a broken government. Our tax code is complicated and burdensome and difficult to predict so people are scared to invest. Our regulations are strangling job creators. The hoops of trying to start a business in America are significant.

And this national debt is a serious issue. Every week it gets worse. Look at unemployment numbers. Look at how the economy has gotten worse. Respectfully, the things the president has done, the things that the democratic leadership have advocated, these things are not working. Our government is broken and we have to reverse course.

VAN SUSTEREN: The speech was eloquent. I love to listen to a great speech and feel inspired. I think, great speech but getting something done in this environment is extraordinarily difficult, environment of Washington. How do you deal with it? Don't you have that sense that it is a roadblock every time you move a foot forward?

RUBIO: Our constitution also gave us a republic. This Republic was designed to limit government's ability to do things. The framers and founders didn't want us to have a very active government. They thought the government's job was to protect our rights. What happened in our country would be what our people did.

VAN SUSTEREN: You mentioned the tax code. According to the debt commission 3,300 special interests parts to it. The tax code is a nightmare. People have been talking about it for years. How do you get it to --

RUBIO: People have to feel the sense of urgency many one of the other things I said, one of the reasons we are not making progress too many people in Washington in both parties that concluded that the next election is more important than the next generation. We have to have a sense of urgency about what we are facing.

VAN SUSTEREN: How do you get that?

RUBIO: The point of my speech is America has been phenomenal, particularly in the 20th century. It was the American century. The 21st century can be that as well, but we have to do it. It is not going to happen on its own.

We have to understand that what is at stake is not who controls the house, Senate or the White House, what is at stake, what kind of country we are going to have in this new century. It can be better than the 20th century. But we have to do it. If people understand the stakes, that will motivate them to take action.

VAN SUSTEREN: If a year from now all your hopes and dreams that you outlined in your speech are unattainable because of Washington, will you be dispirited?

RUBIO: I will be disappointed. I've already been disappointed. I've been hereafter I've been here five and a half months and we haven't done anything that I think nothing is happening on fixing the debt. I think it is politics. There's a strategy. They are trying to wait until the last second and force something down our throat. The other part they want to use it as a weapon. They want to focus on issues they can use to win elections. Proof of what I'm saying too many think elections are more important than the future of our country and it is not.

VAN SUSTEREN: Does it make you crazy?

RUBIO: Not crazy, frustrated. You get disappointed because you know it is the opportunity cost of it. We have a chance. The world is coming in our direction. We have a chance for the 21st century to be better than the 20th. There are more people around the world than ever before that can afford to buy the things that Americans can invent, build and sell. We have to have an economy that can do that, that the government is not impeding the American people. I'm frustrated they are missing an opportunity to craft the new American century.


VAN SUSTEREN: Coming up, Washington is buzzing about Senator Marco Rubio. Does he hope to be tapped as the vice presidential candidate on the Republican ticket? We all want to know. Hear from Senator Rubio himself, next.



VAN SUSTEREN: Here's Senator Marco Rubio.


VAN SUSTEREN: How is President Obama doing?

RUBIO: I don't think he's doing a good job. He has a tremendous amount of confidence and faith in the ability of our government to stimulate our economy. Our government is important but the government is not what is going to grow our economy. Our economy will be grown from everyday people that have good ideas that are prepared to take risks to bring those ideas into reality. We need a government that makes it easier to do that not harder. All the uncertainty created by things like Obamacare are making it harder.

VAN SUSTEREN: How do we turn it around? I know the Republicans say in the next election people are going to the polls vote Republican Senate and Republican in the White House, the problem is the American people this is urgent for a lot of people. A lot of people don't have jobs many homes under water. Some worried about foreclosure. There is an incredible sense of urgency in this country many how in the short run account American people be helped?

RUBIO: By policy make there's take the tune seriously this is a time to be excited about the opportunity before us. We have challenges that have to be confronted, we have a chance to make the 21st century just as prosperous as the 20th.

We have to have a plan to start bringing this debt under control this debt limit is an opportunity. We have to have a plan to make our tax code more predictable. You want to encourage people to invest not just how high the rate is, are they certain what the tax code is going to be down the road?

VAN SUSTEREN: I've been hearing this from Washington since I've been here. It's not happening.

RUBIO: There's no sense of urgency. Instead of making this calculation, some meetings where they are deciding these issues they are not viewing it through the lens of what can we do? We have the opportunity to make the 21st century the American century, they are not doing it that way. They are saying, how can we use the issue of taxes, Medicare, and debt for the next election?

VAN SUSTEREN: How do we get them to mark the goal --

RUBIO: We have to start talking about not just urgent but what an important and incredible historic opportunity we have to Bill the new -- to build the new American century. We have a chance to do something special, let's try to figure it out we don't fix this and lose the things that have made America exceptional.

History is not going to be kind to Republicans or Democrats. They are going to look back at this American leadership and say those are the people responsible for the decline of the greatest country in the history of the world.

On the issues of foreign policy, very rarely do you get a choice between a good option and really bad option. More often it is choice between two less than ideal options, and you are trying to figure out which of the two is the better one. How complicated and quickly developing the issues are around the world. At this time last year none of the things happening in the Middle East were predictable. Yet you have seen that from Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria all of these things were hard to imagine.

VAN SUSTEREN: When you walk away from the office, whether it is -- what is the one thing you want to think I accomplished this?

RUBIO: That I was part of a group that came up here and put in place policies from a government standpoint that allow us to usher in the new American century. People will say as great as the 20th century was for America the 21st was better because more nations came in our direction. And we did policies here that made that happen. I hope that will be our legacy to our children and the world.

VAN SUSTEREN: Who do you admire most on Capitol Hill?

RUBIO: A lot of people I've been impressed by. The person who helped me get elected is Senator DeMint. I didn't know him two years ago. He supported my candidacy we no one thought I could win out of principle. I've been inspired how his perseverance on this issue and his focus. I think he has help this time around because we were able to elect some folks that are like-minded. I admire his courage and leadership.

VAN SUSTEREN: You think the Senate takes the Tea Party seriously?

RUBIO: I do. I think the Tea Party has been a positive development for America. Still misunderstood by mainstream media it is isn't of everyday Americans of all walks of life. Many who never participated in politics other than doing their civic duty and vetting who are frustrated in the direction of our country, who fear Washington doesn't take seriously the things that are going wrong.

They are mad at both parties. They want people to make a difference. That's what 2010 was about and hopefully that's what the future will be about. The Tea Party sentiment especially has been a very positive development for American politics.

VAN SUSTEREN: Your name is batted around all the time as a possible vice president to run on the ticket. Do you have any interest?

RUBIO: I'm flattered that people would throw by name around like that, but I'm not interested. I'm not going to be the vice presidential nominee I'm going to be U.S. senator. Every day we go better -- we get better at our job. I'm excited about what I'm doing. I don't think about it. I'm not going to be the vice presidential nominee.

VAN SUSTEREN: What did your kids say about your speech today?

RUBIO: I think they liked it. I have an 11-year-old and nine-year- old, they get it more. Might have five-year-old and six-year-old and four- year-old were more interested on how the mike phone worked.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, senator, and we'll be watching at the years go on.

RUBIO: Thank you, Greta.