Marco Rubio Reacts to Florida Primary

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," August 24, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

LIZ CHENEY, GUEST HOST: The Florida Senate race has turned into one of the most watched races around the country.

Former Republican Governor Charlie Crist's decision to launch an independent challenge turned a traditional Republican-Democratic match-up into a three-way race. He and Republican candidate Marco Rubio will now face off against Representative Kendrick Meek, the winner of tonight's Democratic primary.

Many Republicans are watching my next guest, a true rising star in the Republican Party. Florida GOP Senate candidate Marco Rubio.

Marco, thanks so much for being here tonight.

SENATE CANDIDATE MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.: Thank you for having me with you tonight. Thank you.

CHENEY: Absolutely. Well, listen, you look like you're surrounded by supporters there. And you also look to be pretty well positioned according to the latest poll by Public Policy Polling organization, shows you up ahead of Crist by eight points with Meek down at 17 percent.

So what do you need do between now and November to really maintain and solidify that lead?

RUBIO: Well, we have a pretty straightforward race here in Florida. It's very simple. If you like the direction that Washington is taking America there are two candidates on the ballot, Kendrick Meek or Charlie Crist. They support this Washington agenda. You should vote for one of them.

But if you're unhappy with the direction our country is going, if you believe as I do that the direction Washington is taking us is wrong. Well, then I'm the only one running that's offering an alternative to it and that's going to be our message here for the next 70 days. It has been our message for the last 18 months.

CHENEY: Marco, do you have a sense that voters in Florida are beginning to understand the extent to which Governor Crist actually expanded the size of the state government when he was in office? The extent to which he raised taxes? The extent to which he really -- although he was calling himself a Republican -- was governing in many ways much like the current Democrats in Washington are.

Is that message starting to get through the people?


CHENEY: Do they understand that?

RUBIO: It is. It is and I'll tell you why it's getting through because our unemployment today are -- is higher than the national average. In fact it's almost three times as high as it was when he took office as governor.

And you look at almost every measurable in Florida today and four years ago when Governor Crist was elected, Florida is much worse off, not better off than it used to be.

But also the agenda that he's embraced. It's an agenda almost identical to Kendrick Meek's.

So as I said, you know, if you're happy with the direction Washington is taking America they're your candidates. But if you want your next U.S. senator to be someone that will stand up to Washington, D.C.'s agenda and offer a clear alternative we're the only one offering to do that.

CHENEY: You know we had more bad economic news today, Marco. We saw that the sales of preexisting homes were at their lowest level in 15 years. People are accusing the Republicans of being the party of no. But you have actually said that's not right, We have a positive agenda. You're running to be -- you've said -- the alternative not the opposition. Talk about some of the positive things that you'd like to see done if you are elected and get to Washington.

RUBIO: Well, number one, it all begins with job creation. And we need to remind ourselves something that Washington's forgotten. And that is, jobs are not created by politicians. They are not created by presidents or U.S. senators.

Jobs are created by everyday people that start a business or expand an existing business. And government's job is to create an environment where the private sector -- especially small businesses -- have the confidence to grow their business and hire new people.

Right now everything that's coming out of Washington, D.C. is discouraging the job creators, it's scaring the job creators, whether it's the threat of higher taxes, cap-and-trade, new regulations, Obamacare.

These things are job killers and so what we need is a clear alternative agenda that makes it -- that will send a very clear message, America is serious about becoming and staying the best place in the world to do business.

CHENEY: Marco, talk a little bit about what your position in this latest poll and what your victory in the primary -- although your opponent got out of the primary because he was fearful of you.

Talk about what that means in terms of conservative politics across the nation because people I think have tried to sort of paint that race in Florida as, you know, one that will be difficult for to you win as a conservative.

RUBIO: Well, every one of our issues polls in the majority. I mean our positions are mainstream positions. It's pretty simple. I think the private sector creates jobs, not government.

I think our government cannot continue to spend more money than it takes in. And I think the world is a safer place when America is the strongest country in the world. These are mainstream positions.

It's my opponent. It's Washington, D.C. that's far outside the mainstream. Now -- they may not believe that at some of the fancy editorial boards across the country. But everyday Americans and everyday Floridians, they believe Washington is taking us down a road that will rob us of our exceptionalism and we're the only campaign, and have been from the very beginning, that is offering a clear -- a very clear alternative to that.

CHENEY: Marco, on the foreign policy front this administration seems to have moved to put more distance between the United States and Israel than perhaps any administration in recent history.

As you -- you know, look now at the new peace talks meetings that are supposed to take place this week, are you at all concerned about the position that the Obama administration has put Israel in?

RUBIO: Well, I'm very concerned, especially early in the administration. They created all sorts of daylight on a consistent basis between this country and Israel, our best friend in the world.

And you know what that does? It actually makes the Middle East a more dangerous place. We need to constantly remind ourselves that America has no better -- no friend in the world than Israel.

Israel is everything we hope the Middle East will become. They are peace loving, they are free market enterprise society -- economy. They have a well established democratic system where people get to vote and chose their leaders.

We wish the rest of the Middle East will become like that. It's important that America never allow daylight to exist between us and that great friend of ours in Israel.

CHENEY: Marco, your own personal story -- one that I've heard you talk about before -- is really tremendously moving and something that I know has given you a real appreciation for the value of freedom in this nation.

Talk a little bit about what you think needs to be done on the national security front to begin to defend that freedom more effectively than we've seen so far.

RUBIO: Well, look, let's begin with this principle. The world is a safer place when America is the strongest country in the world. Somehow there are some in the administration who believe that by retreating from our global obligations, by somehow, you know, appeasing the international community at the expense of American power, that somehow that makes us and the world safer.

It doesn't. The world is looking for America to lead. Just as one example. If America does not lead the war on terror, there is no other country in the world willing or capable to do that.

If America doesn't help lead the effort against a nuclear Iran or North Korea's, you know, wild ambitions, there's no other country in the world capable or willing to do that. These are serious threat not just to our national security but to the safety of the world. And only America -- a strong America -- can help lead that effort.

That's why it's so important the next senator from Florida -- quite frankly around the country -- are people that understand this clearly.

CHENEY: Terrific. Well, thank you very much, Marco. Great to have you here today. And we'll be watching over the next 70 days. Thanks so much.

RUBIO: Thank you very much.

CHENEY: Coming up --

RUBIO: Thank you, Liz.

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