Dec 07 2020
Miami, FL — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined NBC 6 to discuss the election results, the upcoming transition of power, the impact of the Paycheck Protection Program, a potential second round of COVID relief, former Vice President Joe Biden’s proposed policy towards Cuba, and the importance of the San Isidro Movement. See below for highlights and watch the full interview here.
On the 2020 election:
According to the state officials, including Republican officials in those states, there is no evidence of [voter fraud], but as a candidate, the President has the same right as any other candidate and that is to gather information and present it in court. Obviously those court hearings to date have not gone the way the President’s lawyers would have liked, but it sounds like he’s going to go all the way to the Supreme Court and he has until the 14th of December to complete that process.
As of now, I can’t point to anything that I can look at and say this is clear evidence of something that changed the outcome of an election, but I’m also not going to prejudice his rights to work through the court process. In the end, there’s either evidence or there isn’t, and the courts will decide it -- that’s what our law says.
On the prospect of President Trump running for president in 2024:
If the President says he’s going to run in 2024, he’ll probably clear the field, he’ll be the Republican nominee, and he’ll spend the next four years running. And then I think he would have a chance to win, not just the primary, but the general election. As we just saw we had a very close election. It’s his decision to make, but if he decides to run, I think what it means is that Donald Trump will be the next Republican nominee.
On Senator Rubio’s plans to run for reelection:
I still have work to do in the U.S. Senate. We’ve had a very successful four years out of the six years in this term -- I have two years left in this term, and we have a lot of work to do. We’re full steam ahead… I’m also doing my job, which I think is one of the most important things you can do if you want to be reelected. I have every intention of being on that ballot in November of 2022, and I feel very good about the account we’ll be able to bring to the people of Florida.
You’ll see at the end of this year, I filed more bills, passed more bills than anybody in the U.S. Senate -- while chairing two committees. Meaningful bills, PPP, you name it, the Veteran’s Accountability Act, a long list. On top of all that, my Constituent Services team that helps Floridians was recognized as the best in the country last year, so I feel very good about the work we’ve done and we’re going to continue to do it.
On the Paycheck Protection Program and bipartisanship:
I saw [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez] put something up criticizing PPP, and my response was that was a bipartisan bill. In fact, just moments ago, before I jumped on this interview with you, I was on the phone with my Democratic counterpart Benjamin Cardin working on the details of a second round of PPP assistance. It’s a plan Republicans and Democrats have supported, it’s saved the jobs of 55 million Americans, over 3 million of them right here in Florida, and it’s what happens when people work and work together. I think that’s something we should be very proud of.
Ultimately, my job is not to try to make a point, it’s to try to make a difference, and that’s what I was pointing to. [Alexandria Ocasio Cortez] is someone, and others like her, that if they actually spent more time working they could get some of these things passed.
On COVID relief:
The status is we got to get movement on it. In essence, we have to get agreement on the different components. The one that I’m working on, obviously, is the second round of assistance for small business. I want to make sure there’s enough money in that $900 billion that is set aside for small businesses. Because we don’t want to be in a position in mid to late January where we’ve got small businesses applying and being told “well the money ran out”. We feel very good of where the country is going to be in six to nine months as the vaccines and the new antivirals continue to rollout... I feel cautiously optimistic about the PPP portion of it, in the end, I think it will come down to whether everyone is willing to compromise and get something done so that we don’t leave the country in a lurch here going into the New Year.
On the balance between health and the economy:
It’s a very difficult balance, and you have to strike one. In the end, just like in medicine, you don’t give someone a medicine that’s going to make them sick or sicker than they would normally be. You want to make sure that it’s secure, that’s why for example FDA approvals have to happen for vaccines. Because we want to make sure it doesn’t prevent COVID but cause something else. The same is true for the measures we take in our economy, we clearly have to be more careful and we have to ensure that we provide people the best information available between now and the time that we have that level of immunity with vaccines. But, in the interim, we also can’t wipe out our economy and leave millions of people unemployed and millions of businesses shuttered and millions of people not being able to pay their rent, or now their electric bill. It’s a tough balancing act but I think by and large it’s something that Florida has gotten better than other states like New York, which has twice the death rate than Florida does… We have to do the best we can under these very difficult circumstances to try to preserve as much of our economy as we can, while still doing everything we can to prevent this from reaching a level that overwhelms our healthcare system. Not easy.
On COVID vaccine distribution plan for Florida:
I think the distribution plan for Florida is going to be initially through hospitals for two reasons: one because the healthcare workers there, if they get sick there we’re in a lot of trouble and the other is because they have the storage facilities to be able to hold them in the freezers. I think that’s the first priority, our healthcare workers, so that the people who are treating those who are sick are safe. The second is those who are in conditions of high-risk nursing homes patients, people who fit a certain profile. I think if we can handle those two levels first and get that distribution going, then I think it’s going to help a lot. I really do… If we can help some of the most vulnerable people from getting it in the first place, that will take a lot of pressure off of our healthcare system. That doesn’t mean that people are still not going to get COVID, it means the people who are likeliest to have a hospitalization or worse are going to be protected.
On the COVID double standard:
I think there’s a lot of double standards here. I’m not even going to point at some of the elected officials that lecture people about not going here or there, there was a mayor of a city that was putting out videos telling people to stay home but he filmed it from Mexico where he was there for a trip and others who have done the same. But I think there’s also been a double standard like if you look at during the [presidential] campaign, when Donald Trump would have a rally and people’s heads were exploding on tv saying how irresponsible it was. But when the media declared Joe Biden the winner, there were thousands of people on the street, and nobody said that was irresponsible. So I think it’s important for us to understand here that there is some of this hypocrisy in its coverage.
And even in the way Florida is being covered. Our Governor has been skewered by the media in the State, particularly in the newspapers, but also by the national media. But the Governor of New York, a state that has double the death rate of Florida for a hundred thousand residents, their Governor got an Emmy for his press conferences. These are important things to point to because I think they point to a broader problem and that is a constant narrative that is making people distrust what they’re hearing from the legacy national media.
On working with the incoming South Florida Republican Freshmen in Congress:
I’ve known them both for a very long time, I’ve worked with them in different capacities. Obviously, Congresswoman Salazar was a journalist so I was on her show many times. And [former] Mayor now Congressman-elect Gimenez was the mayor of the County and before that a County Commissioner. I’ve been working with him since he was a city official for the City of Miami. So, I do look forward to working with both of them. I think we can get a lot of things done together that’s good for South Florida, and in many ways, for the state.
On potential changes to Cuba policy under a Biden Administration:
Well, I think in that case, [a potential reversal of U.S. policy towards Cuba], [Biden] should listen to John Kerry who said that ‘the policy changes did not have their intended effects. Here is the problem, we all want the people of Cuba to have a better future. The problem is if you’re a dictatorship, a brutal regime, we can open up as much as we want to Cuba but that regime gets to decide what pieces of that opening reach the people. What was happening is that this company that they have, owned by the military, was getting all the benefits of it. What the changes President Trump put in place basically say is, you can do business in Cuba just you can’t do it with that company or does companies that are controlled by the Cuban military. And I don’t know how Joe Biden or anybody can justify opening up to the Cuban military again. Now if it’s going to mean we are going to allow individual, independent Cuban businesses to thrive and prosper and have independence from dependence on the government and so forth, that’s different and that’s available right now. I think it will be a mistake, frankly, to go back to a policy that didn’t have its intended effect. The Cuban military and the Cuban regime were benefiting from it but not much change in the lives of everyday Cubans whether it be for their freedoms or their prosperity.
On the San Isidro Movement in Cuba:
The change it will lead is to greater suppression. It’s probably the kind of protest that the regime fears the most. Primarily these are young people who grew up their entire lives [in Cuba] who have been bombarded their entire lives being told that everything that’s wrong in their country is the fault of the embargo and U.S. policy. And who frankly have gotten used to, and have the expectation, that they’ll be allowed to speak freely and communicate and are now being oppressed for doing so and are not going to take it. [The movement] is incredibly organic, not that the other movements are not, but I think those are the two things that really scare the regime: that it’s a younger generation and that it’s organic, it has absolutely nothing to do with anybody abroad. All we can do and say is point to it, to their bravery and courage… It’s a very basic and simple human desire that is denied to them on the island of Cuba by that regime. I don’t think arresting people over there is going to work this time.