Marco Rubio on record, 'sense of urgency' facing America

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," October 20, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, something is up on Capitol Hill. We are getting word from Mike Emanuel, our Capitol Hill correspondent, that there is a meeting going on or will take place within the next few minutes between Paul Ryan and some of those Freedom Caucus members.

Remember, this 40-member caucus was the one backing Florida Congressman Dan Webster to be the next speaker of the House. But that was really before all the dust-up with Speaker Boehner leaving. Now, you might also recall that Paul Ryan, the former vice presidential candidate, has gone on record saying he will not negotiate for this position, assuming he had any interest in it to begin with.

We are told, at least on the record, he does not. Nevertheless, a lot of attention being paid to the fact that Ryan is even meeting with this group and, if so, what that could portend.

To Republican presidential candidate Florida Senator Marco Rubio on these fast-changing developments.

Senator, good to have you. Welcome.


CAVUTO: What do you make of this? And do you think Paul Ryan should take up the speaker task?

RUBIO: Well, I don't know what to make of it. I'm not privy to the internal deliberations in the House. And so I will let them that handle that.

And I don't know what Paul Ryan is thinking. I can only take at his word what he has said publicly. I know he has a young family. And so we will let that play out. I think this is -- this is being covered as some sort of a terrible thing that's happening.

I think this is a good thing. It is a vibrant thing that is going on.  The party is being revitalized, looking for new faces and new voices. and the House is taking the lead on doing that now and finding something new to occupy the speaker's chair. And so I don't necessarily think this is a negative thing.

I think the outcome here could be kind of a turning of the page and providing a new sense of urgency and vibrancy to the Republican Caucus over there. And so it could very well be a very positive thing. But we are going to leave that in their hands. We have got our hands full here both in the campaign and in the Senate.

CAVUTO: All right, now, you are a young dad yourself. How do you wrestle that with running for the highest office in the world?

RUBIO: Well, because it's about them at the end of the day.

I'm running because I want my children to inherit a special country.  It was the country I inherited from my parents, my grandparents and those Americans that came before me. And that's the kind of country I want my children to inherit. And that's not the direction that we are headed now.

I know -- if we keep doing what we are doing now, we are going to be the first American generation that leaves our kids worse off than ourselves. The alternative is, we can leave our children freer and more prosperous than any Americans ever.

That's why I'm running for president. And it is as much about them as it is about all Americans of their age and in that generation. So, that's what motivates me to do this. And I feel good about the progress we have made.

CAVUTO: You know, obviously, a lot of press attention to what seems to be a little more friction than we have seen in the past, Senator, between you and former Governor Jeb Bush.

George W. Bush, the former president, quoted as telling a Jeb Bush group -- and I think I have got this right, sir -- "He is a young first- term senator. I'm not sure if that qualifies you to be president."

I should stress, he went to say, "Now, I -- if he wins, I will be back here next year telling you that doesn't matter."


CAVUTO: What did you make of that?

RUBIO: Well, I don't even know if he said that, number one.

And, number two, it sounds like him just telling a joke. It sounds like a funny thing to say.


CAVUTO: Well, we heard it's confirmed by a couple of people at that event, but...

RUBIO: Well, it doesn't matter.

CAVUTO: Right.

RUBIO: At the end of the day, look, here, it is a campaign. And in a competitive process from time to time, people are going to say things, sometimes things they don't want to say or really mean.

And I'm not worried about any of that. I really am not. I know that the press -- I'm not saying you, but the press in general operates on conflict. I'm not running against anybody. I'm running for president.

I just don't think this country can afford another four years like the last eight years. And I think we have to reinvigorate the Republican Party and turn the page and allow a new generation of leadership to lead us forward, people that understand the world as it is now and the challenges we face as a country today, a generation of leadership that will apply the principles of limited government and free enterprise to the unique challenges of this moment.

And that's why I am running for president. I am excited about the way the campaign is going. It has been incredibly rewarding. And I feel good about the progress we're making.

CAVUTO: So, I know you're trying to let this sort of roll off you back here. You when you hear Jeb Bush Jr. tell people referring to you, sir, "Dude, you know, either drop out or do something, but we are paying you to do something. It ain't run for president," talking about missed votes you had in the Senate.

What do you say?


Well, his dad is running for president. And I guess he thinks he is doing something to help his father. It's fine. I don't -- none of that bothers me. It's politics. And when you are in this process, people say things or do things sometimes that maybe later on they regret. It doesn't really matter.

This election isn't about me or any of the other candidates. It is about the country, about the future of America. We are running out of time to turn this country around. And that's what this election should be about. And I am trying to spend every second and every opportunity talking about that. That's what our people deserve. That's why they are frustrated with politics, because no one is focusing on that here in Washington.

CAVUTO: Now, it is all about money. And you have said, as soon as you guys start charging -- stop charging for campaign commercials, I will stop trying to get money.

RUBIO: Right.

CAVUTO: But it does come at a time when everyone scrutinizes how much you guys have. The latest third-quarter period, I mean, your money -- your momentum slowed.

Ted Cruz has picked up considerably. The worry is that you are going to run out of it, that unless someone with deep pockets comes in, you could be in trouble. What do you say?

RUBIO: Well, that's not going to happen. We have a plan for our campaign and we have hit every goal we have set for it.

Look, I'm not the first choice of the kind of entrenched Republican establishment. I knew that when I ran for the Senate and I was badly outraised by the governor of Florida, Charlie Crist. I knew that now going into this race.


CAVUTO: Yes. By the way, he is running for Congress. What do you make of that?

RUBIO: I know. I know.

Well, there are some people who can't live without it, I guess. But I will let the voters in that area decide. I think they know we don't need more of Charlie Crist.

But to go back to the point, I knew that when I ran then. When I got into this race for president, some of the same people that told me not to run for the Senate here in Washington came out saying, it isn't your turn.  You need to step aside and wait your turn.

I didn't know there was a line to begin with. And I don't know what we are waiting for. It is time to move forward. It is time to embrace the future. So, I knew we wouldn't be the leading fund-raiser in this race, because we are not the top choice of the entrenched political establishment.

But I am confident that we have the resources and continue to build the resources to be able to communicate our message. And, obviously, if somebody watching this program wants to help us, they should go to and...



CAVUTO: There had been talk that Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire, was quite smitten to you, in fact, he's ready to commit to you.

When I raised that with Donald Trump, who was here with me a few days ago, Senator, he said, "Well, if Sheldon gives to him, he will have total control over Rubio, and that's the problem with the way the system works, whoever gives. I think that's why I'm leading so much" -- this is Trump referring to himself -- "because nobody controls me."

What do you say?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, if somebody decides to support our candidacy, they are buying into our agenda. We are not buying into theirs.

The second thing I would say is, Sheldon Adelson is a great American.  And let me tell you the only issue he has ever talked to me about. And that is the state of Israel, the future security of Israel and the relationship between Israel and the United States of America.

And I am deeply committed to that. And I will be no matter who supports me, because I think this country has both a moral and a national security obligation to stand up and be firmly on Israel's side.

And so, again, look, when I -- I -- we do raise money in my campaign.  And people buy into our agenda. I have a detailed policy agenda. It is in writing. I have a voting record. I have positions I have taken. If people like that, they come on board, and if they don't, they go with somebody else.

CAVUTO: So, if you look at the situation now -- and these are constantly changing polls -- but you generally poll well.


CAVUTO: You are third or fourth in most polls. In Florida, you are ahead of Governor Bush, as I said, but behind Ben Carson and Donald Trump.

Are you surprised that, when it comes to those nontraditional candidates, I'm talking about Donald Trump and Ben Carson, that they still poll so well and still outpoll you in your own home state?


Yes. No, I am not surprised, because people are really angry. I mean, look, they elected a Republican majority to the House and to the Senate, and Obama keeps winning. And people are upset. And they're thinking, now is the time to shake things up. And I agree with them.

But it's not enough to just be upset. You also need to elect someone that knows what to do if given the chance to govern. So, you need to have someone with a sense of urgency, which is the reason why I ran for the Senate four years ago. It's the reason why I am not running for reelection to the Senate and running for president.

That's one of the things that people don't realize. In November of next year, I will either be the president of the United States or a private citizen again, because I have a sense of urgency. We need to deal with these issues now. But I also have concrete, specific ideas about what I would do to help turn this country around.

And so I hope that we can convince enough people that we're the right person and give us a chance and an enormous opportunity to represent and serve this country in its highest office.

CAVUTO: Maybe because you have been rising in the polls and you are, I think, the number one second choice, if there is such a way to describe it, Senator, that if Republican voters didn't get their top guy, you would be their number one number two guy. I think I got it right.

But maybe owing to that, every word you say is sort of picked apart.  Rand Paul ran on your comments about a no-fly zone over Syria, something we should enforce, saying that it was a big mistake and thank God you were not in charge during the Cold War.

He said: "Reagan avoided a cold war by, one, not setting red lines like that, continuing to have open communication with the Russians, having a strong enough defense to repeal attack and to worry the Russians."

He went on to say your message is quite the opposite.

What do you say?

RUBIO: Well, that's a fundamental misreading of history. We have most certainly airlifted supplies into Berlin when they created a blockade.

We most certainly supported all kinds of groups around the world that were taking on the spread of communism. I would further add that, in the absence of that in the Middle East, what you are going to continue to see is migratory pressures on our allies and ultimately into Europe.

You're going to continue to see the spread of Russian influence.  You're going to continue to see the growth of ISIS. And so eventually, all that will come to us. In essence, these groups are already actively expanding. Completely uncovered story. I don't understand why no one is talking about this.

ISIS is now the predominant, most powerful terrorist group in Libya.  They are growing in their influence in Afghanistan. They're now increasing their presence in Pakistan as well.  This is a very dangerous group. And they continue to spread their growth and influence.

And, ultimately, they want to target us here in the United States. In fact, if they could, they would right now extensively. And, in fact, they're growing in the capability of doing that. We can ignore them. They will not ignore us.

And so the bottom line is in the absence of American leadership, it leaves behind this vacuum, and this vacuum is what creates the prime conditions for a group like this to grow and prosper and ultimately attack us.

CAVUTO: Senator, you have said you are very confident, in the end, when all the dust settles, you will be the nominee.

So, I guess that -- going to that point, sir, I wanted to know, would you entertain Donald Trump being your running mate if that were the case?

RUBIO: Well, I think it is too early to use anybody's name.

First of all, it would be presumptuous. I have a long way to go to earn the support of people to be the nominee. I have a lot of states that we have to win and do well in, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, a slew of states in the South, Florida on March 15 and other states thereafter.

It is way too early for that. And I think if you ask Donald, he would say he is interested in being president himself. And Ben Carson would say that. Everybody running would say that.


CAVUTO: Yes, but he has thrown names around. And Ben Carson has thrown names around. Ben Carson said he would entertain Donald Trump when I last talked to him.


RUBIO: Well, I'm not going to do that today. No, I'm not thinking about anybody in particular.

Right now, I'm focused on running for president. Here is the good news. The one good thing about having such a deep bench of quality candidates on the Republican side is, it is not just about vice president.  You potentially have attorney generals and Cabinet officers and future presidents as well running in a cycle.

We have a very deep and talented Republican Party. And that's a good thing for our country. And look at the Democrats. They are struggling to come up with one good candidate.

CAVUTO: Now, north of the border, as you know, a young, relatively inexperienced politician has become the leader of the party and a movement and now the future prime minister of Canada. He's about your age.

And the rap used against him as he was running was that he wasn't up to doing the job because he was too new at what he had. That's what you hear. How do you answer that?

RUBIO: Well, look, I don't think it depends on your biological age.

I think it depends on your judgment, on your understanding of the issues before you and on your willingness and ability to bring the country together to confront these great challenges. And I am confident. I wouldn't run for president if I -- think I could do the job.

But I also believe it is time to turn the page for our party and for our country. We need to elevate a new generation of leadership with new ideas relevant to this new era. The world is changing. Our economy is dramatically different. Our policies and too many of our leaders, quite frankly are outdated, especially on the left.

The time has come to fully embrace this 21st century economy. If we do, this is going to be the freest and most prosperous time in our history.  If we don't, we are going to be the first Americans that leave our children worst off than ourselves.

CAVUTO: Finally, Senator, a number of Hispanic groups have protested the fact that you are going to see Donald Trump hosting "Saturday Night Live" next month, Congressman Gutierrez the latest to say, not a good idea.  How do you feel about that?

RUBIO: Well, don't watch the show.


RUBIO: If you don't like the show that he's on, then they should turn the channel off and not watch it.

I mean, it's a free country. I don't agree with everything Donald Trump says. I don't agree with everything the other side says either. But if you don't like it, don't watch the show. It is on at 11:35 on Saturday nights.


RUBIO: And there are plenty of other things you can watch. Or you can just go to bed early.

CAVUTO: You could do that.

RUBIO: Tell them not to watch the show if they don't want him on there.

CAVUTO: All right, Senator Rubio, thank you very, very much.

RUBIO: Thank you.

CAVUTO: Don't watch the show. It makes it pretty simple.

Thank you. All right.

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