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ICYMI: Rubio Joins The Manny Munoz Show
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined The Manny Munoz Show to discuss the senator’s upbringing, family life, pathway to politics, and more. See below for highlights and listen to the full interview here.
On the senator’s experience living in Las Vegas:
“[Las Vegas] was different than today. The city was much smaller than it is now. Places that now have houses on them and casinos were just desert. We had half our family living there at the time, so we moved out. We left [Miami] when I was going into third grade, and we moved back when I was going into ninth grade. It was right in the middle of growing up. But it was a good experience.”
On the Rubios’ immigration from Cuba:
“My parents first came here in 1956. They actually thought about going back, because Castro was supposed to be this new guy that got rid of [corruption]. There was hope around that. But my grandfather came in [the early 1960s], after he had taken over, and almost all of my extended family [came then] as well. When your parents came from somewhere because they couldn’t live there anymore, it certainly has a tremendous impact on your upbringing and your view of the world and how quickly things can change.”
On the senator’s childhood:
“[I was] probably not the best student. I talked a lot. The complaint my parents always got was, ‘he talks too much, and he’s always telling jokes, and he’s a class clown.’ You know, all the stuff I get mad at my kids for doing….
“I was a huge football fan, but it was a different time. There was no direct TV Sunday ticket. There was no ESPN seven. There was no online stuff. I tried to follow the Dolphins from living in Las Vegas, and that was tough. Most of the games, I couldn’t see them, because they weren’t on TV over there. You depended on your local broadcast, so unless they were on prime time or or playing a West Coast team, [I didn’t see them].
“I can’t say I grew up loving politics, but I liked it. I was interested in it. I probably followed it more than most kids did. I grew up in the era of Reagan. Those two things took up a lot of my time, playing and watching football and then some interest in politics. I read a lot, mostly the sports page, but I read a lot.”
On the senator’s early college years:
“I graduated from South Miami Senior High in Miami. Like I said, I wasn’t the greatest student, but then I started paying for college, and I got real serious about it. I actually did pretty well in college and again in law school. But I certainly had to work hard to make up for all the work I hadn’t done before….
“Initially, I went to [play football at] a in northwest Missouri called Tarkio College. I had a good experience there. But there came a point when I realized, I’m really far from home. Remember, there was no FaceTime. Homesickness was real. It was a great experience, but I came to the realization, I need to get back somewhere closer to home where I can graduate and start working on the rest of my life at that point.”
On the senator’s favorite undergraduate football team:
“I went to law school at Miami. The law school doesn’t have a football team. The university does. But I’m a Gator fan primarily, because I went to undergrad there. Those are the games I went to. I’m actually a big fan of [Miami head coach] Mario [Critobal] and what they’re trying to do there. I think college football is better when the University of Miami is good. I hope they can get back there. But I’m a Florida Gator and have been, and follow them and root for them.”
On the senator’s wife and kids:
“We’re getting up on 25 years [of marriage] here. I’ve been blessed. [My marriage and my kids have] been the greatest blessings of my life. The other day I found this old iPhone that I had…[,] and I found all these pictures of [my kids] growing up. It reminds you of two things. The first is, when people used to tell us, enjoy them while they’re little, because they grow up so fast, that’s so true. And the other is how blessed we’ve been, despite the work we’ve done, and all the time commitment that it takes to have created some real special memories with our kids. Ultimately, what you want out of life, what I think everyone does, is for your kids to be better off than yourself. Hopefully, we’re on the way to doing that.”
On how the senator met his wife:
“We had a mutual friend [and met] back in the summer of ’91. We started dating and got engaged in ’97 on Valentine’s Day and got married in October of ’98. We’ve been either dating or married for more than half our lives, for both of us. I’ve been very blessed.”
On the senator’s interest in politics:
“I had an interest in it. I can’t say that when I was 12 years old, I said, ‘that’s what I want to do.’ Initially, I thought maybe I’d get into coaching or sports broadcasting. I had two passions. One was football and the NFL, and the other was government and politics. I followed it, but I can’t say there was some sort of a master plan. Where it really took off is when I noticed that every time I did something politically related, I did it better than the other stuff. I was a lawyer, and I did land use and zoning work, and I was okay. I wasn’t committing malpractice or anything. But I wasn’t passionate about it. Then I did stuff helping political campaigns, like working for Bob Dole’s presidential campaign in ’96, and I was willing to work 18, 19 hours a day.
“I didn’t realize it at the time, but it’s something I tell my kids and anybody who will listen: one of the things you want to do in life is find out what you’re good at and passionate about. It’s got to be both. If you’re passionate about it, but you’re not good, it’s just a hobby. If you’re good at it, but you’re not passionate, then it’s going to feel like work. But if you’re good and you’re passionate, then you have a chance to be really good at it and really feel productive. That’s what I learned with politics. It was something I enjoyed doing. I think the most enjoyable part about it was that you could see something that you thought was messed up or wrong and then go out and try to do something about it. That’s kind of how it really began for me.”
On the senator’s most impactful policy accomplishments:
“In the state legislature, there are things that may seem mundane, but I think they matter to people, like that you can now renew your tag for two years instead of having to do it every year. We passed that law. Curriculum reform, making sure that our curriculum was upgraded, is something [that matters to me]. I published a book called 100 Ideas for Florida’s Future when I was the speaker, and we got 60 of them passed. A lot of them are still in law in Florida, and we forget where they came from.
“Here in the Senate, I’m very proud of my work on China. The Hong Kong bill that changed our relationship with how we treat Hong Kong after the Chinese took it over, that was my law. The fact that you can’t bring in things from Xinjiang, built by Uyghur slave labor, is my law.
“The Paycheck Protection Program, that saved small business in America. It truly did. A lot of the focus these days is on how much money people have stolen from the program. That’s a problem, and I think there was some fintech involved that contributed to that. There is, unfortunately, fraud involved in every government program. Medicare is rife with fraud. But if there was no Paycheck Protection Program,…we would have had a Main Street collapse in America that could have led to all kinds of unrest in the country. We’d still be dealing with the carnage and damage from that.
“So I’m very proud of that. We passed that in an empty Capitol. There was nobody here. We got it passed, and we got it reauthorized two times, by unanimous votes. In many cases, the House wasn’t even in session. They were doing the proxy voting stuff.”
On something people would be surprised to know about the senator:
“I’m a huge high school football fan. I’m very involved. I try to be involved not just as a dad, but ultimately with a lot of the local coaches…. It’s not just the sport. In many cases, for young men in America, their high school football coach is the single most influential male role model in their lives. I think these high school football coaches are the ministry. Most of these kids don’t go on to play in college, but some of the habits they pick up being involved in that structure could be very positive or negative.”
On whether runaway spending or China is a greater threat to the U.S.:
“They’re interrelated. China wants to overtake the U.S. and become the most powerful country in the world at our expense, and debt is related to them. One of the things they’re using to undermine us is the fact that we spend in a way that is not sustainable, and we’ve got big internal problems that they’re counting on collapsing us.”
On whether the U.S. is more likely to reform Medicare and Social Security or immigration first:
“Immigration reform is first and foremost about having laws that decide who can come here and how many can come here, and then enforcing them. I think our chances of getting that done are there. When it comes to Medicare and Social Security, no one wants to touch it. That’s harder, because everyone recognizes an issue in saving the programs, but politically, no one wants to touch it. They’re both very difficult..”