This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," October 22, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Live from the spin room, we are at Lynn University and I'm joined by a Romney surrogate, he is also known as Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Senator, good to see you. How are you?
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, F-FLA.: Thanks for having me back.
HANNITY: It was very interesting. As the debate went on tonight, a couple of things started -- it was obvious to me that Governor Romney went into this debate not wanting to go tit for tat with the president. President came off at times a little petulant, a little angry. Na, na, na, na, na, I felt. And I'm like, I don't know if that really sells well in the end with the American people. Good strategy?
RUBIO: No. I think that is absolutely right. I mean, Governor Romney came here tonight and showed people that he is ready to be president. He appeared presidential. The president appeared small. There were a couple times that there was a major -- there was a question about Iran's nuclear program. And the president responded with a petty answer about how the governor had some sort of investment with a Chinese company that did business with Iran. What does that have to do with a nuclear program in Iran?
RUBIO: This is a big question about a major important issue that's existential to one of our closest allies in Israel. And the president answers with that. He appeared petty, he did not look presidential tonight, Romney did.
HANNITY: There is a lot that I felt that Governor Romney could have been brought up if he wanted to go. He did bring up the apology tour. You know, he did say that America was guilty of torture when he went to Cairo. So, Governor Romney did bring up some of these things. But this is also a president that said when he was running last time, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, those countries are tiny, they're not a threat. So he's flip flopped --
RUBIO: But you know what Governor Romney did tonight, when he pointed those things out, he did so within the context of what this campaign is about. For example, he talked about our leverage on Iran and the ability to get Iran to respond to a negotiation. And he pointed out all the actions the president took that sent the signals to Ayatollahs in Iran that they didn't have to worry about Barack Obama. Whether it was keeping Israel in his travels to the Middle East, whether it was the comments that he made in the speeches, whether it was his unwillingness to say anything about the protest in the green revolution in the early days of this presidency when folks took to the streets to protest the stolen elections in Iran. He correctly pointed out that all of those things were clear signals to the Ayatollahs that Barack Obama was not serious and was not to be worried about.
HANNITY: If there is one surprise in my mind from tonight, is the issue of how do we define a war on terror? I mean, this is a terror that banned the use of the term, man-caused disaster, overseas contingency operations. Fort Hood is an example of work place violence. And through the context of the cover up in Benghazi. I'm surprised, just from a general debate's stand point, and I did think Bob Schieffer did a good job, that that should have been a bigger focus in the debate.
RUBIO: Well, and I think unfortunately it wasn't. Because that is one of the key issues that we face on our National Security. But I can tell you Governor Romney has been pretty clear about its position on the war on terror. First of all, it is a war on terror. You're looking at what's happening now where Al Qaeda is reconstituting itself in North Africa and he talked about that tonight. In many countries, they are now, 10 to 12 countries around the world where there wasn't fundamental Islamic terrorist groups in the past. They're now there. They're not reformed themselves in those countries. I think that is a part of a failed foreign policy. Governor Romney clearly showed that he understands the threat, understands where that threat is and has ideas how to deal with it.
HANNITY: You know, it was very interesting too, because Governor Romney did challenge the President on this idea that America has helped the Muslim world. When President Obama went on this apology tour, he didn't point out that America has sacrificed in the Muslim world in places like Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Kosovo, just to name a few, but he did say that America was guilty of torture and that America had abandoned its values.
RUBIO: And that America dictated to people, its terms.
HANNITY: And that was brought up tonight as well. That's right.
RUBIO: You know, the president have the theory that you find a lot of times in the left in an academia, that the reason why the Middle East, that some folks in the Middle East hate us is they didn't like George Bush or they just don't like -- because America is rude or American is mean to them, that's why they don't like us. It's absurd. The reason why fundamentalist Islamist don't like America is because they have a view of the world that they want to impose on as many people as possible and America is standing in their way. That's why they hate us.
HANNITY: You know, the president during the course of his presidency once said that we don't have the right to inflict our values, or insert our values on other countries. And when I hear that I think -- if America doesn't lead, who does?
RUBIO: That is right. That's absolutely right. I mean, a world without American leadership creates a vacuum that will be filled by really bad actors. The truth is America can't solve all the problems in the world. And increasingly the global issues have to be solved by a collection of countries that confront them. But those coalitions have to be put together and they have to be led. And only America can do so. And if you look at the principles, America's fought for, they're actually, principles that all people want. Freedom, liberty...
RUBIO: -- respect for human rights, respect for women, respect of all life. These are American principles, but these are also principles of all humanity.
HANNITY: But when the president during his course of presidency says Iran does have the right to nuclear power that he would negotiate with our pre-conditions, why shouldn't the conditions for negotiating for Iran be, you've got to stop denying the holocaust, you've got to abandon your nuclear weapons program, you've got to grant civil rights and liberties to your citizenry.
RUBIO: Well, I think it's impossible to negotiate with Iran on -- for the following reasons, the leadership of that government is very clearly said that they want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. That is what they've said.
HANNITY: They need to stop saying it before we negotiate.
RUBIO: Not only that, they're a state sponsored terrorism. So, a country that state sponsored terrorism and wants to wipe another country off the face of the earth can never have a nuclear capability because they're going to use that nuclear capability to arm terrorist and to wipe out Israel. How could we possibly negotiate any sort of nuclear arrangement with them? It's the only arrangement they don't have any nuclear capacity.
HANNITY: At the end of the day, I saw a governor tonight that showed himself to be knowledgeable, presidential, above the pettiness of a president that was trying to score chief political points.
RUBIO: Absolutely. That's exactly right.
HANNITY: I don't think that strategy will work for the president. He seems desperate tonight.
RUBIO: Tonight is the night to appear presidential.
RUBIO: President Obama did not. Only Mitt Romney on that stage tonight, looked, spoke and acted like a president. It's going to pay huge dividends.
HANNITY: All right. Senator, always good to see you.
RUBIO: Good to see you.
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