This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," August 23, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And as the field of Republican presidential contenders continues to sort itself out, one name is often mentioned as a possible vice presidential nominee in 2012. He is the wildly popular freshman senator from the great state of Florida, Marco Rubio.

And tonight, Senator Rubio joins me from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in beautiful Simi Valley, California. Now, he delivered a major address on the role of government in America.

Senator, good to see you. Welcome back, sir.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.: Good talking to you again.

HANNITY: All right. You know, I got to tell you this. A lot of people speculating, another big step in the career of Marco Rubio, stepping out on the national stage right there in Simi Valley. What is your reaction to all that talk? I know it is flattering but is it something that --

RUBIO: Yes, it is flattering. Yes, it is. You know, but they've said it about other people before. They will say it about other people in the future. I'm here because Mrs. Reagan invited me right after the election. It's such a tremendous honor. You know, I grew up in Ronald Reagan's America. I mean, I was in 4th grade when he was sworn in and I was on my senior year in high school when his presidency ended.

So, Ronald Reagan and the things he stood for defined so much of what I experienced growing up. And to be here today, just to brought all that back and to have a chance to talk about -- there are two major issues in Ronald Reagan's presidency, one, what would America's role in the world be? And that of course, led to the end of the cold war. And the other is what is the role of government? And what the role of government should be in America? And he fought that battle to try to get us back to the right place. And because we are not there now, we are facing this day of reckoning that we have basically, the way to understand it is, we have a government, we have -- America has built for itself a government that not only we the richest country in the history of the world can continue to fund.

HANNITY: By the way, when you were in 4th grade, I was graduating from high school, which means I'm older than you, which is really annoying by a pretty long shot.

RUBIO: I'm getting older too.

HANNITY: We all are, everyday. You talked specifically about what America's role in the world should be. I raised this question last night, I wonder now as the White House and political operatives from President Obama try and grab credit for Libya, even though I don't think we have any clue as to what the final outcome is going to be. Does he now support the Bush doctrine of preemption? Does he, you know, what does it mean in the short term, what does it mean in the long term? Did we break it and now we own it, as Colin Powell once said?

RUBIO: Well, unfortunately I think on Libya, the policy was too late to come to a coherent policy even took a very day. Look, I'm very happy that Moammar Qaddafi is not going to be around in Libya. And I actually think the administration didn't handle that well because they waited too long to move one way or the other. You know where they wanted to go. But they had to make a move early and be decisive. And not doing that actually has allowed this to go on longer. But we should be happy for the people in Libya. The world is going to be a better place that Moammar Qaddafi is not in charge of Libya.

But that aside, I mean, the role of America, one of the most important roles we play is just to be an example to the world to show that you can have both prosperity and still be a compassionate country. That market forces and the free economy allow people to overcome the circumstances of birth and live a life their parents couldn't even imagine. And the fact that we even exist, the fact that America even exists is an inspiration to people all over the world. Ronald Reagan knew that. He knew that it wasn't just so much what we said, it is how we lived. And the fact that if America was America, the rest of the world would be better.

HANNITY: The IMF says that the Chinese economy will overtake the U.S. economy in the year 2016. The vice president is over in China, and he's trying to calm fears about our economy and saying, well, don't count the U.S. out. And at the same time, our vice president affirms China's one-child policy. Now, this is, he actually said, I fully understand, I'm not second-guessing one child per family. The results are going to be you are in a position, one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people, that is not, you know, sustainable. Forced abortions?


HANNITY: You know, the brutality towards women.

RUBIO: That's a country --

HANNITY: What's that?

RUBIO: That's a country where the government dominates society. And in China, the government is the country. That's the difference between countries like that and us. So, America is not a government. America is a nation of people. The government works for us. We have a government that is supposed to serve us and do things that governments do, like act in our national security, build roads and bridges. You know, take care of the issues, our government supposed to be taking care off. And countries like China, the government is the country. But soon, what we will see there, people will call out for freedom as well. They'll wonder how come we're building these huge industries that are helping our country grow but we don't have access to Google. We can't look up any web site that we want.

And so, that day is coming for them as well. The aspirations that Americans have for their children, their grandchildren, their families are universal ones. And America needs to continue to be a beacon for the world and lead by example by living and being who we were always meant to be.

HANNITY: You're viewed as a leader of the Tea Party Movement, and loved in the Tea Party Movement across the country which is why I think a lot of times your names has been mentioned for VP. A group that is been accused to being racist that's been called terrorists. Maxine Waters said a couple of days ago, that they could go straight to hell. You get a fellow Floridian congresswoman suggesting that the real enemy is the Tea Party Movement just either today or yesterday. Why do you think there's these attacks against the Tea Party? And why is this double standard that this is one group you can basically say anything about, no ramifications at all?

RUBIO: Well, without having heard specifically all those comments, I can only tell you that my experience has been that the more heated the rhetoric, the likelier is they can't win the public policy arguments.

Look, the country's headed in a terrible direction. And the policies that this administration has pursued and some of the folks you mentioned have supported have not worked. In fact, unemployment is higher, our economy is not growing. None of this is good news by the way. I love my country a lot more than I love my political party. I want America to do well. But the policies that are being pursued in Washington are not going to get us there.

And so if you're a part of the group of people that supported those policies, you can't defend the policy. You're not going to win on that. The only way you are going to win and convince people to vote for you is to really try to demonize the other side. And I think that's why you see some of this overheated rhetoric. We should address it, but we shouldn't get fixated on it because at the end of the day, the fundamental problem facing our country is that we spend a lot more money than we take in. Every month, the federal government borrows $120 billion that it doesn't have in order to pay and function as a government. Everyday our tax code destroys jobs, our regulatory system destroys jobs. We have Obamacare about to kick in 2013 that will kill jobs. That is the real problem. We need leaders that will focus on those issues.

HANNITY: What do you think -- I know you are not supporting, haven't endorsed anybody. What do you think of the current field of GOP candidates that want to take on Barack Obama?

RUBIO: I think it is an underrated field. As I tell people all the time, running for president is not a decision, it is a process. You can't just say I want to be president. You have to go on and actually do it. That means long days on the road. Speech after speech, audience after audience a lot of hands you have to shake, waking up at 4:00 in the morning to do morning shows and staying at cheap hotels all across Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and the early states, all because you want to be president. That tests people and from that process you're going to get someone who has the stomach to face the kinds of issues that a president has to face.

So I am confident that when the primaries are over, we're going to have a nominee on the Republican side that is going to lead our country in the right direction. True be told, I think any of them would be better than who we have there right now.

HANNITY: All right, Senator Rubio, thanks for being with us. Good to see you again.

RUBIO: Thanks, Sean.

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