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ICYMI: Rubio Joins Bay News 9
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Bay News 9 to discuss President Joe Biden’s 2022 State of the Union. See below for highlights and watch the full interview here.
On the senator’s decision not to attend the State of the Union address:
“I did watch the speech, and I didn’t boycott the speech. I boycotted the protocols. I just didn’t take a test…. They wanted me to take a test. When I got here Monday night, I didn’t have time to do it, and I’m not taking any more COVID tests unless I’m sick. If they had let me go without taking the test, I would have happily gone, but I watched all of it on TV and I got to sleep earlier than everybody else that went.”
On President Biden’s State of the Union address:
“There are some things [President Biden] talked about that I’m supportive of. He mentioned burn pits. That’s my bill with Kirsten Gillibrand, the senator from New York. I hope we can pass that. It creates a presumption that if you were deployed in these areas where there were burn kits and you have some rare cancer for your age, the U.S. federal government is going to pay for your medical treatment. I hope we can pass that tomorrow. There’s been a lot of resistance up to now from the Administration [with regard to that bill].
“Obviously, I’m supportive of closing off airspace [to] Russian aircraft at this point. These are all positive things, and generally the unity that our country has shown in this matter of Ukraine … is critically important, because there’s strength in our foreign policy when there’s unity.
“Other things [I didn’t agree with] so much. [President Biden] talked about not dividing the country. Well, this is the president that said anyone who didn’t vote for the Fake Voting Rights Act was somehow a supporter of white supremacy and segregation. [It’s] tough to call people that because they disagree with you on a law and then come around a month later insisting that everyone come together and not view each other as enemies.
“It’s like any other State of the Union. It’s a mixed bag. I imagine Democrats liked it more than Republicans, and certainly I disagree with a lot of policies that the President is pursuing.”
On the Biden Administration’s decision to close off U.S. airspace to Russian aircraft:
“It’s certainly important to do. All these other countries have [done it.] Practically speaking, it would be very difficult for those planes to come here anyway at this point, because if you look at how they’d have to fly here, many of those routes out of Moscow are nearly impossible. You can’t go over Canada, you can’t go over much of Europe.
“What’s important to understand is Vladimir Putin, his entire legitimacy as a leader in Russia is not that he’s a warm and fuzzy guy. His argument is, ‘I’m the strong leader that brought Russia out of the humiliation of the ‘90s into being a great global power.’ And in about seven days, he has basically destroyed the Russian economy. They’re in complete freefall.
“It’s important that [Putin] pay that price, because evil has to pay a price or evil will continue to grow, and others will follow his example. But also … it costs money to carry out what he’s trying to do in Ukraine — not just the invasion, but what he’s going to try to do by occupying it for some period of time. And the Russian economy is the size of, I believe, the GDP of the state of Tennessee. It’s … roughly the size of Italy’s economy. [Putin] can’t afford to sustain a long, protracted engagement in Ukraine, and especially [not] with this [restriction] in place.”
On the Biden Administration’s opening of the U.S. strategic oil reserve to reduce gas prices:
“That’s not going to do much. In fact, … the markets reacted almost immediately. I believe that crude [oil] opened up last night … to $105 [per barrel]. I said before this all happened [that] even if nothing happened, just the fact that there’s a war involving the third largest oil producer in the world, Russia, … the price could get to $110, $115 a barrel….
“When you go pay higher prices right now, today, that gasoline was refined and imported or bought … weeks ago, it’s nothing to do with what’s happening now. It will begin to have something to do with it [in time].
“The answer to [high gas prices] is to get America back to producing more oil and natural gas. We are today producing close to 1.2 million barrels less than we used to produce just a couple of years ago. We have the ability to do more. The President has restricted it. We need to get back to doing that to stabilize global markets.”
On Vladimir Putin’s increasingly erratic character:
“I’ve been a target of [Russian] disinformation…, attempted hacks, all kinds of things…. They also happen to be the supporters of the evil regimes in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua, who I also have big problems with. [So] I’ve watched them for a long time.
“Vladimir Putin is a man who has always tried and prided himself in showing tremendous emotional control [by never showing anger [or] joy. [He is] just always very stoic in his performance. What you’ve seen recently is flashes of real anger and frustration, and these long winded speeches [are] very uncharacteristic. I also recognize this guy’s almost 70 years old in a country where the average life expectancy of a man is 72. He views himself as someone who is a great historic leader that’s going to restore Greater Russia.
“I think his risk calculus today … is different than it used to be. My point in saying all that is not to poke fun at him or to claim that this is some madman behind the nuclear arsenal. My point is we should not make the mistake, as some have already made, in thinking that Vladimir Putin is going to make decisions the way he used to make, the same decisions he would have made five or 10 years ago.
“This is a different Vladimir Putin because this is a different Russia and different world. His risk calculus and his decision making is different today than it used to be. We should not make the mistake of assuming he won’t do certain things because he wouldn’t have done [them] in the past.”
On how Floridians have been impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine:
“We’ve been working with a number of Ukrainian-Americans throughout the state of Florida who’ve contacted us both about relatives who may be there [and] are American citizens or even American green card holders. We’ve been processing [constituent inquiries], although I can’t give you an exact number….
“We continue to ask people to reach out to our office if there’s someone there, and not just people inside of Ukraine, where it’s gotten increasingly difficult for anyone to move around anywhere east of Kyiv, but also some who are stuck in Poland or third countries, or in transit, but may have lost their travel documents because they left in a hurry. We always stand ready to help anyone. The American Embassy is active [and] operating out of Poland. It’s able to assist United States citizens….
“[Ukraine] is a war zone right now, so none of the airports are working. You’d have to get out of Ukraine before you can fly to America or anywhere else at this point. There’s just no airlines obviously flying in Ukraine right now.”