OTR Interviews

Rubio: No national security rationale for closing Gitmo

GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio tells 'On the Record' why he believes Pres. Obama is putting his legacy before national security with his plan to close Gitmo and why he's worried about 'dirty tricks' on Nevada caucus night


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 23, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: President Obama is trying to make good on a 2008 campaign promise. The president delivering his plan to Congress to shutdown the Gitmo detainee center. Not even one terror suspects remain in Gitmo prison. And some of them could be headed to the United States. And the Gitmo fight is becoming a hot 2016 topic.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president is planning to close Guantanamo. Maybe even giving it back to the Cuban government.

DONALD TRUMP, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This morning I watched President Obama talking about Gitmo, right? Guantanamo Bay. Which, by the way, which by the way, we are keeping open.

SEN. TED CRUZ, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me say this Mr. President, don't shut down Gitmo. Expand it. And let's have some new terrorists there.

GOV. JOHN KASICH, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not for closing Gitmo. Plain and simple.

RUBIO: Not only are we not going to close Guantanamo. When I'm president, if we capture a terrorists alive. They are not getting a court hearing in Manhattan. They're not going to be sent to Nevada, they're going to Guantanamo.

TRUMP: And we are going to load it up with some bad dudes, believe me. We're going to load it up.

CRUZ: Mr. President, you don't have the authority to give away vital military assets of the United States of America.


VAN SUSTEREN: 2016 GOP presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio goes ON THE RECORD.

Nice to see you, sir.

RUBIO: Nice to talk to you again, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, the big news today, of course, is Gitmo. And I read your Twitter account that says, "Obama's plan to close Gitmo is a continuation of prioritizing his own legacy over the safety of American people."

Are you saying that he cares more, sort of selfishly about his legacy than he does the safety of the American people?

RUBIO: Because there is no national security rationale for doing what he is doing. He is arguing -- he is saying things that al Qaeda and ISIS are attacking us because of Gitmo? That's absurd. And they don't have anything to do with Gitmo. They attack us because they are radical Islamic jihadists. That's why they attack us in our interest and other innocent people around the world.

Second, there is no national security rationale for what he is doing because many of the people that are being released from Gitmo are returning to the fight against us. Today, we wake up to the news that Spanish police have arrested a former Gitmo detainee that returned to the battlefield against the United States.

This is all about fulfilling a campaign promise to close Guantanamo and it leaves America more vulnerable. And it isn't going to happen. We're going to fight it every step of the way.

Yes, I'm sorry.


VAN SUSTEREN: Would you make that same argument, sir, to President Bush because when he was president, he released 500 and apparently according to the numbers, President Obama has only released 147. And I realize as we get down the chain, you get to the more dangerous ones. But would you make that same statement to President Bush.

RUBIO: Well, that's an important distinction. There are a lot of people on Guantanamo and some who have wound up there. There had simply been people that were rounded up in operations and didn't pose a threat. But now as you said, the less and less people you have there, as you get down that line, the more and more dangerous they become.

I would say this, however, about anybody who was in favor of releasing enemy combatants who are trained killers from Guantanamo. Many of whom have been pretty open and expressing their desire to return to the battlefield against America. And that's, in fact, what many of them have done. They leave and they return to the fight against us. So I would say that about anybody, Republican or Democrat that puts our national security at risk.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. When you talk about release, from my understanding of the plan is that some of them will be transferred. They use the word transfer. But I agree. I call it released, too. But then a number of them who are the more serious one will be brought to the United States and placed in regional federal prisons here.

Do you have any -- do you object to that? They will be in custody.

RUBIO: Yes, but there is no need for them to be here. Guantanamo is a first rate facility for holding enemy combatants. I visited there personally. There is no rationale or reason for moving them from there. None, whatsoever, or bringing them to the homeland of the United States which could create problems for us here.

So, I think it goes back to point, why? We have the Guantanamo facility. It is a facility that was built and is capable for detaining people such as these. Who are enemy combatants and a war on terror. And that's where they should continue to be held.

In fact, I think we should be moving more people there. If we capture terrorists in the battle field in the fight against ISIS or whoever it may be, we should be taking them to Guantanamo as well.

VAN SUSTEREN: There is a press release out of your campaign office in Nevada suggesting that your campaign is worried about dirty tricks tonight in Nevada.

Are you worried about them?

RUBIO: Well, we're concerned in the sense that we have seen them in the past in an effort to mislead voters. We saw that in Iowa. We saw some of that this weekend in South Carolina. We want to be prepared. So the release basically tells our supporters if they run across any sort of misinformation that they report it immediately so we can get the word out.

The Nevada caucus is a newer process. They've only had two. So it's a new process for a lot of people that are participating in it. I just want to make sure no one goes to vote tonight and is told that somehow I have dropped out of the race or some of these other silly things that have happened here over the last few weeks.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think that is a remark directed towards Senator Cruz since that's what happened to Senator Cruz vis-a-vis Dr. Ben Carson in Iowa.

RUBIO: Well, it happened vis-a-vis us, too. Last week in South Carolina, a gentleman fainted and had a seizure at one of my events. And I stopped the event and said a prayer for him. And we just ended it because we wanted emergency personnel to reach him. And they put out a Robo call telling people that I had announced that I was dropping out of the race if I didn't win in South Carolina.

So we just want to be prepared for anything that happens. Obviously, the Cruz campaign has been a big part of some of those things over the last few election cycles. And we just want to make sure that our voters are aware of the truth and no one is mislead towards changing their vote because they think something has happened that, in fact, has not happened.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you very much. And as I say to all the candidates, good luck, sir. And I hope you come back.

RUBIO: Yes. Thank you, Greta.