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ICYMI: Rubio Joins State of the Union

Feb 5, 2023 | Press Releases

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined State of the Union to discuss the Chinese spy balloon. See below for highlights and watch the full interview here

2023 SOTU

On whether the balloon should have been downed earlier:

“They [the Biden Administration] can track these things. I would hope you can track a slow-moving balloon that is clearly headed here from its trajectory…. How late into January did they already know that there was this high-altitude balloon and what its trajectory was and where it was headed? And why didn’t they take action at that time?

“The other thing we need to know about and understand is why did it take so long for them to disclose this to the American public? I don’t think the trajectory of where this balloon was going was a mystery. Pretty early on, because of the prevailing winds, because of the direction that it was headed, it was clear that this thing was going to enter the Northwest in Montana, in Idaho, move its way down the Midwest, and exit the eastern seaboard just off the Carolinas. That’s an unprecedented flight path. Why did it [the administration] wait until Wednesday or Thursday to talk about it to the American people, knowing people were going to be seeing this thing?”

On intelligence gained by monitoring and recovering the Chinese spy balloon: 

“We won’t know that till we get into a secure setting this week in Washington. And probably most of that is something we won’t be able to disclose in any great detail.

“I don’t think the technology or the existence of these things is a great mystery. I think what’s embedded here is a clear message. It’s not a coincidence that this happens leading up to the State of the Union address, leading up to [Secretary of State Antony] Blinken’s visit to China. The Chinese knew that this was going to be spotted. They knew that we were going to have to react to it. They flew it over military installations and sensitive sites.

“The message embedded in this to the world is: ‘We can fly a balloon over airspace of the United States of America, and they won’t be able to do anything about it to stop us…. If they’re not able to stop a balloon from flying over U.S. airspace, how is America going to come to your aid if we invade Taiwan or take land from India or take islands from the Philippines and Japan?”

On past Chinese spy balloon incursions into U.S. airspace:

The existence of the balloons is not a mystery to people. What we’ve never seen, what is unprecedented, is a balloon flight that entered over Idaho and flew over Montana over all of these sensitive military installations, Air Force bases, ICBM fields, right across the middle of the country. That has never happened before. That is unprecedented. We’ve never seen this, so this is no comparison to anything that may have happened up to this point.”

On President Biden’s handling of the situation:

“You know people are going to see this. At some point, you’re going to have to disclose it. They [the administration] probably didn’t want to, because they didn’t want to have their hand forced on canceling this Blinken visit….

“Why didn’t the president go on television? He has the ability to convene the country in cameras and explain what we’re dealing with here and why he’s made the decisions he’s making and what they intend to do…. I don’t understand why he wouldn’t want to do that. That is the beginning of dereliction of duty.

“We have to act swiftly on these things. That’s one of the things the Chinese are trying to message: ‘The U.S. had to see this coming and decided they couldn’t or wouldn’t do anything about it early on. They had to wait until this thing went across the middle of the country.’

“What are we going to do the next time this happens? Are we going to allow it to fly through here again and shoot down once it gets to the East Coast? These are questions the White House needs to answer.

“I don’t think these are partisan claims I’m making. I think there would be broad agreement that we need to know moving forward what our policy is going to be with regards to this.” 

On the future of U.S.-China relations: 

“The broader relationship between the US and China to anyone who has any doubts about it is clear. China has been for some time, and will be, the primary strategic adversary of the United States. We should be focused on it because what they’re trying to do is create a world in which they are the most powerful nation and the United States is a great power in decline. That is what they believe to be the case. That is what they are working on. And we have to determine whether we’re going to allow the world to head in that direction or not. 

“Then there’s all sorts of things we need to do, from how we’re postured militarily in the Indo-Pacific all the way to what kind of companies do we allow to operate in the United States and spy on us because we’ve invited them in, because they’re in our infrastructure and our telecommunications infrastructure, because they’re buying land, because they’re buying farmland, because because they’re wiping out key industrial capabilities of this country. There’s all kinds of things that need to be discussed when it comes to China, because this is the issue of the 21st century.”

On China’s threat of retaliation to the downing of the balloon:

“If we were to fly anything over China, they’re going to shoot it down, they’re going to take pictures of it, and they’re going to go bonkers about it. I don’t know what statement they’re making…. It’s silly talk. That’s what we should expect.”