Sen. Marco Rubio: 'The goal here is to defeat ISIL'

This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," February 10, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MEGYN KELLY, HOST: Developing tonight, new concerns that President Obama may have said a dangerous precedent as we hear new reports that Islamic Terrorists propose a prisoner swap with the United States in exchange for the release of an American woman.

Hours ago, the family of Kayla Mueller confirming that she died in ISIS custody. She was captured in 2013 after traveling to Syria to do humanitarian work. A short time ago, President Obama weighed in, saying for the first time that U.S. forces did try to rescue Kayla, but did not succeed.

Now, reports that ISIS proposed a prisoner swap for Kayla are raising new questions over whether the president's release of five Taliban generals in exchange for suspected Army deserter Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl set a bad precedent.

Just before we came to air, I spoke to Republican Senator Marco Rubio.


KELLY: Do you believe that we have set some sort of a precedent that the United States is willing to engage in a prisoner swap with our terrorist enemies?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA., FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: I don't think there's any doubt about that. The people noticed it, our enemies have noticed it. We said at the time that that swap in itself would now put a price tag on the head of every American abroad. In fact, ISIL even as we speak is actively looking for more westerners to kidnap, particularly Americans, because they can either butcher them in these horrifying videos that we keep seeing, and it's a propaganda win for them, among a radical of Jihadist, or hopefully, in their mind they think they can get a trade or money on their behalf. There's no doubt in my mind that that prisoner swap has created that incentive.

KELLY: Let's talk about the AUMF, the Authorization for Use of Military Force. Both parties have been pressing for a new one of these. We had one before we went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq. But both parties are saying we need a new one because that one doesn't really apply to the battle we're now fighting. Now, the White House is coming back, they're going to present it to Congress tomorrow, as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, your committee is key on this. The White House been getting hit for making it too restricted, making it too limiting in what a commander in chief can actually do, either this one, or the one that's going to follow Barack Obama. Where do you stand on it?

RUBIO: Well, I think we need to authorize not just the use of force; we need to authorize to defeat ISIL. It continues to develop. What the president needs to come up with is a strategy, militarily, to defeat them, which I think involves, for example, an anti-ISIL ground force, made up of Arab armies, combined with U.S. Special Forces particularly for tactical support, an increase in the air strikes. But we need to authorize the use of force, but more importantly we need to authorize the use of force sufficient to defeat them, to destroy them.

KELLY Now, Senator Rand Paul has come out on the record and said he would oppose any AUMF that doesn't have geographic limits, because he thinks then we could have somebody expand this to, "Well, we're going to go bomb Saudi Arabia," because we think they fall within the definition of what this authorization provides. Do you agree with it?

RUBIO: Well, think about it this way, if you put a geographic limit on the authorization of use of force, you basically told ISIL where they can go to hide. If you say for example you can only hit them in Iraq and Syria, they have every incentive now to move their operations and their training facilities to some other place that's not included within it.

We need to understand, what's the goal here? The goal here is to defeat ISIL. Now, if your goal is to defeat them, no matter how long it takes, or how many places you have to go after them.

KELLY: Do you think that the AUMF is going to get submitted tomorrow is going to go through, is it going to pass?

RUBIO: Well, we need to see the details of it. As I said, I hope that it is an authorization sufficient that allows us to win, to defeat ISIL. And I think when you limit it geographically, when you limit it with time constraints, you're basically telling the enemy we're going to fight you for five years. If in five years, we haven't succeeded, then we're going to stop, or we're not going to hit you if you move to Libya or if you move to Afghanistan. I don't think that's going to work. Our objective here is to defeat this very dangerous group.

KELLY: Let's talk about Iran for a minute. There's news on that. Just yesterday, Secretary Kerry suggested that this March deadline we have to reach a deal with the Iranians or we're going to have sanctions come out of the U.S. Congress is real. He can't see that deadline being extended. But then today at the State Department, Jen Psaki said, "Well we've never said deadline, it's really just been more of a goal." Do you think that our government is serious about this March deadline on Iran?

RUBIO: I think that the Iranians believe that Barack Obama and John Kerry are desperate for a deal. And I think they sense it, in our body language and words such as these they've made in the past, and the fact they're fighting their own congress on giving them the authority to impose additional sanctions if the talks fail, and the Iranians are taking advantage of it.

For example, one of the issues that's not even on the table and it should have been on the table is the missiles and rocket systems that they're developing. The only reason why you develop long-range rockets is to put a nuclear warhead on it and that it has completely been untouched in these negotiations.

KELLY: So what's this about for Barack Obama? Because his critics say oh this is political cover, he wants to say,"Oh, I'm the one who got the deal with Iran," but that is very cynical. You have to be very cynical to think given the existential threat to Israel, that that's his out clause.

RUBIO: Well, listen, I have no doubt he would want Iran to abandon its nuclear program and he thinks he could get a deal that delays it by five years, that's a good thing. But I think driving a lot of this is domestic politics, the ability to say at the end of his term that he was the one that got this deal done, that it was an achievement, and a future president was the one that lost that achievement, but t least he achieved it. There is no doubt that is part of their checklist as they try to build a legacy. Unfortunately, I think it leaves this country in a very dangerous position at our strongest ally in the Middle East, Israel, in an even more dangerous position.

KELLY: Finally, I want to ask you this. David Axelrod was on Fox News last night and was asked about President Obama's recent comments at the National Prayer Breakfast, talking about how Christians back in the Crusades also committed horrible deeds, so don't get on your high horse when condemning radical Islamic terrorists. His answer to Bill O'Reilly was, "He was just being provocative," that's what the president was doing, being provocative. Your thoughts on the President choosing the National Prayer Breakfast for that kind of a message?

RUBIO: Well first of all, I think he's developed this habit of scolding and nagging and talking down to the American people. I think that's a very dangerous attribute for a president to have, it's very divisive. Quite frankly, I think annoying after some time. But I think to compare 21st century Jihadist to 11th century medieval era Christians is absurd. This is a reality that's happening right now, none of the people involved in the Crusades are alive today or doing anything to anyone. It happened, it's a historical issue that happened a long time ago. For him to -- here's the thing, this is not an off the cuff remark, it was a written, scripted statement. He knew exactly what he was doing, he wanted to be provocative. I think there are people on the left that think that sort of statement is very appealing. I don't.

KELLY: Senator Marco Rubio, great to see you, sir. Thanks for being here tonight.

RUBIO: Thank you. Thanks for having me.


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