Senator Marco Rubio on the Latino Vote, Family and VP Nod

Special Report 's Bret Baier spoke to rising politician Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Full script below.

BAIER: This evening, we begin our series, "Running with Romney," a look at possible running mates for presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney. We begin with a rising political star, Florida senator, Marco Rubio.

BAIER (voice-over): From West Miami City commissioner to Florida State House representative, to the youngest speaker of the Florida house.

To a long shot U.S. Senate candidate backed by the Tea Party --

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: What I think this debate should be about is the future of America.

BAIER: To the republican frontrunner in one of the most watched Senate races of 2010.

BAIER: To a U.S. senator in the spotlight, and now, to something else.

You are 41 at the end of May?


BAIER: You're a U.S. senator.

RUBIO: I feel 42.

BAIER: Do you?


BAIER: You're a U.S. senator who made it through a campaign that was at the beginning. There was no chance for you. Now, you're on a short list, whether you say so or not, for vice president. Do you ever pinch yourself and say, holy cow, how am I here?

RUBIO: I pinch myself because of the understanding that I've been blessed with a real rare opportunity that few Americans ever get, to serve their government and their people at this level. It doesn't escape me that less than half a decade ago, my family lived very different circumstances. My dad was a bartender. My mom was maid.

It was unimaginable that anybody in the next generation would be able to obtain. I mean, this is what other people. They're not, you know, people that came from where they came from. So, those things strike me. The other stuff is fleeting, you know? What will matter is what I do here.

BAIER: Rubio's resonate shows a politician on the move and one who largely credit his success to hard-working parents who came to the U.S. from Cuba.

RUBIO: I think that's a tribute to them. No doubt about it. But I think it's an even greater tribute to America, because it's one of the few societies in all human history where a story like that would even be possible.

BAIER: Rubio is the father of four young children, also he says, a driving force in his life.

RUBIO: My kids are going to come back to Washington 20, 30 years from now, and I hope that they can say, you know, my dad was away a lot, but it was for a reason. And he made a difference. And I want them to be proud of my service and what I've been able to do here.

BAIER: On the stump, Rubio hits home a message of fiscal discipline and limited government.

RUBIO: What we need most from government is to create an environment that encourages people to go out and start businesses and grow their existing business. And you do that through a regulatory framework and a tax code that people understand and is predictable and they can comply with.

BAIER: As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator Rubio says the biggest foreign policy issue is American leadership in the world.

RUBIO: Only America can put together the kind of international coalitions that it takes to confront everything from human trafficking to the issues involving Iran and Syria. So an example of Syria, the friends of Syria is a collection of a bunch of countries, all the Gulf states -- about 80 countries are part of the friends of Syria. And yet they can't get their act together because in the absence of American leadership, there's no catalyst to put a group together to confront that very important issue.

BAIER (on camera): So do you think that the U.S. should be leading the way in some kind of...

RUBIO: Sure.

BAIER: ... military action in Syria?

RUBIO: Military options are the last options on the table. They always have to be. The Syrian people aren't asking Americans to send troops to the ground. They're just asking for some help in being able to defend themselves and further their -- their democratic aspirations.

So I think there's all sorts of things that can be done there, whether it's the creation of a safe haven, whether it's in Turkey or even on the Syrian side of the border, providing communications equipment, potentially providing warfare equipment, not through the United States but through some of our allies as part of the friends of Syria.

There's all sorts of options on the table. But none of those things are going to happen if there isn't frontal (ph) American leadership.

BAIER (voice-over): All answers that analysts say show why Rubio is a rising star.

KARL ROVE, FMR. BUSH SR. ADVISER, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: A strong philosophical conservative with an ability to communicate that message in a way that attracts people across the political spectrum. But young.

BAIER: Senator Rubio reportedly wowed foreign policy experts at theBrookings Institution last week in a private question and answer session. However, he mostly read his public speech and received media attention not for substance but for misplacing his draft.

RUBIO: I lost my last page of the speech. Does anybody have my last page?

BAIER: Other analysts say Rubio's appeal, especially Latino voters, will be very hard for the Romney campaign to ignore.

JOE TRIPPI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Someone like Marco Rubio, that helps you with Hispanics, closes that gap in the West, but also helps you deliver Florida -- that's a -- that's a pretty compelling case, political case for Marco Rubio being on the ticket.

BAIER: Rubio says it's important to remember Latinos don't vote as a bloc.

RUBIO: There is something that unites the Hispanic community, however, and that's this burning desire for economic empowerment. They desperately want to give their kids every chance and every opportunity that they didn't have. So the question is, which one of these two gentlemen that are running has the best idea for them? I think it's going to be Mitt Romney at the end of the day.

BAIER: Senator Rubio is working on a Republican alternative to the Dream Act, dealing with children of illegal immigrants who serve in the U.S. military or get a four-year college degree.

(on camera): Can Republicans pass that? Can you get the Republican Party on board?

RUBIO: The difference between my bill and the Dream Act is the Dream Act creates a special category to get your residency. And I think that would be counterproductive. So that's what we're working on. Again, the details is what people deserve before they take a firm position. And I hope people will give it a chance because it's a good faith endeavor to deal with what I think is a compelling issue.

BAIER: There are a lot of people out there who would like to see you on the ticket. Some have concerns about your past. One is this credit card.

RUBIO: Right.

BAIER: When you were speaker of the Florida house, you charged personal expenses on this party-issued credit card. What happened with that?

RUBIO: At the end of every month, we would get those statements. We would see what was on there that was party-related, and the party would pay that. If it wasn't party-related, I would pay that directly to American Express.

Now, obviously, in hindsight, it looks bad, right? I mean, why are you using a party credit card at all? Well, some of these expenses were because a travel agent had the number, you know, the credit card number, and they billed it to that card instead of the other card. Sometimes, it was just a mistake, you know, literally just reached for the wrong card.

But it's important people understand I did not bill personal expenses to the Republican Party of Florida. The Republican Party of Florida never paid my personal expenses. Never. But look, you know, I shouldn't have done it that way. It was -- it was -- lesson learned.

BAIER: Another thing that people raise concerns about -- what is your relationship with Representative Rivera?

RUBIO: He's a friend. I mean, he's a friend I've known on a personal level even before I was elected or he was elected to office. So look, I know he's going through a tough time. And we've all read the press reports and none of us like to see that about anybody, much less a friend. And he's going to have to deal with those issues.

BAIER (voice-over): Those issues, in case you haven't seen the press reports, are allegations that Miami Republican congressman David Rivera misused various offices and campaigns for personal gain. He's reportedly been under investigation by at least five different law enforcement agencies for a range of violations, including payments of more than a half million dollars from gambling operations after legislation passed in the statehouse that he lobbied for, money authorities say he received through a company set up by his mother and godmother.

RUBIO: I guess it's because I'm new to Washington, but I've never felt it -- I mean, maybe it's acceptable here -- it isn't to me -- to turn your back on friends when they're going through a difficult time, no matter, you know, what they may have done or not done, you know? And so in his case, he's a friend and I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt.

BAIER (on camera): And you're raising money for him.

RUBIO: Yes. You know, again...

BAIER: You're holding a fund-raiser for him.

RUBIO: Well, he's a friend. He's -- and he's asked me to attend a fund-raiser. He's accountable to the people of his district who elect -- who elected him and are going to have to reelect him.

BAIER (voice-over): Rubio is hosting a fund-raiser for Rivera in May. Adding to the media questions, Rivera and Rubio bought a house together in Tallahassee during their time in the statehouse, a house the bank was moving to foreclose.

RUBIO: There was a disagreement with the bank about how much the monthly payments were. And it all got confusing. The bank turned it over to a -- one of these lawfirm in Florida that specialized in quick foreclosure proceedings. And before we could figure it all out with them, they filed this paperwork. So we quickly addressed it, and we've never had a problem since.

BAIER (on camera): You were not not making payments.

RUBIO: Yes, there was a disagreement over the amount per month. And so to them, that's not -- those are not complete payments. And -- and -- so there were all kinds of other things that happened as a result of that. But that all got worked out as soon as we found out about it. Certainly, as soon as I found out about it, we addressed it and we moved on with it. Now, I've been handling that personally.

BAIER (voice-over): Whether those issues are enough to keep Rubio off a Romney ticket will be up to the vetting.

RUBIO: We have a broken tax code.

BAIER: But all analysts seem to agree Florida's junior senator has one thing -- buzz.

MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: I think the media is paying Marco Rubio the great compliment of putting him under the electron microscope early because I think they see him as a possible real contender.

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