Sep 08 2022
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Louder with Crowder to discuss the cigar industry, President Biden’s divisive rhetoric, how the media continues to target former President Trump, and more. See below for highlights and watch the full interview here.
On the cigar industry:
“My grandfather…was raised in the tobacco industry, not as a grower…. He was the only one of the 17 kids in the family…that couldn't work because he got polio. So, he used to read to these guys that were rolling cigars in Cuba. So I have a long history with that. I'm a cigar smoker, not as much as I like when I get screamed at because it’s smelling up the house.
“It's an important industry. It’s an important industry to the Tampa Bay area. [In] Ybor City, there's a long history, and there's one company left. Our FDA followed this rule, they require every new box to have new studies done on the carcinogens. That's impossible for cigars because every year is different. The leaves are different. It's the same product grown in the same place by the same people. But from year to year, there’s variety. Sometimes people care about the year of the cigars. So these premium cigars will not be able to compete.
“It's not just the cigar manufacturers that would be impacted by it, it's the retail shops. All the smoke shops would basically be wiped out because you just wouldn't be able to buy this stuff because you can't label these things the way they’re asking you to. They were certainly not the intended target, but they were captured, and trying to fix it became impossible to touch. This is not cigarettes. These are premium cigars, some of which go for $10 per cigar, and boxes are certainly very expensive. There's just zero evidence that in America today there's an epidemic of teenagers buying $120 boxes of cigars.
“It's just a completely different market. On top of that it's like comparing some cheap beer to some expensive French wine or something. The bottom line is that it's just not the kind of thing you're going to find at a convenience store.
“There's a cultural aspect that people just don't get. You don't smoke cigars the way you do cigarettes. You don't smoke a box of cigars a day. It just doesn't happen, right?… The point being is the product is not being consumed the same way. That's a fact. Even the medicine behind it. All statistical studies say if you're just exclusively a cigar smoker, the risk is not zero, but the risk of driving is not zero. In fact, it's substantially higher. Yet, nonetheless, we all drive.”
On the cigar rolling industry in South America:
“It’s primarily important in Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and especially in Nicaragua…. That's a really complicated skill, right? It takes a lot of skill to do that. It's not the kind of thing you can do. If you did it by machine, nobody would buy it.
“[Those are] the people my grandfather used to recruit back in Cuba at the turn of the century…. They had no television at that time or anything to entertain them, so the way they would keep people entertained is they’d have this reader to read the newspapers and then you would read some novel to them. That's what he did. Then when he was done, he’d make some extra money by actually rolling cigars.”
On President Joe Biden’s divisive speech and rhetoric:
“No, I have not [seen anything like the president’s speech] in the United States. There's a difference between attacking a political opponent—I mean, you've all…seen vitriol at certain levels in this country, that is what it is.
“This is not what he did. He didn't attack a figure. He attacked voters in Florida. He attacked the majority of voters. Trump won Florida by about three-and-a-half points. Nationally Biden attacked 50 percent of the people. In essence, he said, ‘If you vote for Donald Trump, if you support him in any way, you are a fascist or semi-fascist.’ I think for someone who's the head of state, who’s supposed to be someone that can unify this country in a moment of crisis or what have you, you just told half the country that they’re evil.
“People can say whatever you want about Trump. He was pretty vicious towards his political opponents. I always laugh about that…. People always ask me, ‘Oh, were you mad when he said this about you?’ I said, ‘Why don’t you ask a guy in a boxing ring if he’s mad the other guy punched him in the face?’ Now if he punches him in the face at the airport the next day, now you have a problem.”
On the media’s obsession with Donald Trump:
“Donald Trump understood instinctively from 30 years in the limelight promoting things …that at the end of the day, even the people that said, ‘Oh, this is terrible, what is he saying?’, they all covered it like crazy. I mean, CNN was basically 24 hours Trump, during the campaign, after the campaign, even now. I don't care if some spaceship lands from another planet, they're going to dedicate at least a third of their coverage to Donald Trump on a daily basis. He knew how to play that to get maximum attention.”
On President Biden’s definition of a ‘MAGA Republican’:
“I think what he [President Biden] is basically saying is anyone who hasn't condemned Donald Trump every day for everything is a ‘MAGA Republican,’ and that's how he views it. But, you know, the truth is, in American politics, that at the end of the day, the core of conservatism is basically: we just want to go back to normal stuff.
“Let parents raise their children, let them have some say over what they're being taught in schools. Don't teach kids that their country is inherently evil, the worst place on the planet. Because not only is it not true, it's the complete opposite. Our history is better than anybody else. It's still not perfect. It's better than anybody else's.
“Our military is designed to win wars, not promote social agendas like the proper use of pronouns. Rather than focus on the proper use of pronouns, they need to focus on: how do we blow up Chinese naval vessels if they invade Taiwan? Largely have states and local jurisdictions have the mass of government power.
“And don't be the only country in the world where anybody can walk across the border and say: ‘Hey, I'm here illegally, and can you please give me a bus ride to the nearest city that I want to live in? And a cell phone? And I promise to show up in 10 years….
“These are not radical ideas. And the majority of people support this. And most people think, ‘Yeah, it’d be great if we all had cars that are powered by oxygen, air, electric batteries that aren't made in China.’ But we don't have that now, and we're going to have that for 20 or 25 years. And so, what we don’t want to be is California, where they force everyone to buy electric cars at the same time as they're telling them, ‘But don't charge your cars because you're going to create a blackout.’
“These are just common-sense things. The political divide today is crazy versus normal. And that's really what the issue is.”
On the Marxist desire for control:
“I believe that the intellectual center of everything you're seeing out there is called Marxism. And a lot of people that are cooperating with it don't view it that way. People think Marxism is socialism. Socialism is an economic model that Marxism adopts. But Marxism is about control and power, and it's about saying: ‘We have to control everything. We have to be more powerful than the family, more powerful than religion…, more powerful than the media, more powerful than academia, and more powerful than the individual. The collective is more important.’ And so you chip away at anything that rivals your power….
“If it were up to these people, they will say everyone should be in a carpool, riding a bus, or taking a train, or riding a bike to work. That's what everybody should be doing. The reason? To save the planet. The reality? I think in many ways they enjoy telling people what to do in their lives. They like to control everything. That's what Marxism is always about. That’s what it’s always been.
“And that's why I don't think they were troubled by high gas prices. I think they thought: ‘It's going to make it more expensive for people to drive. They're going to drive less. And that's a good thing.’ And in fact, some of them openly admitted that that's their goal…. I'm not saying most Democrats view themselves as Marxist. I'm saying that…the agenda that they're driving is Marxism.”
On confronting Big Tech:
“I think the first thing we have to understand is, it's a new creature, right? We're never used to seeing anything like this. These people, Big Tech today, particularly…Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter, these five guys [can] get together and say: ‘We want to destroy someone. We want to put you out of business.’ You're finished. Yeah, it's as simple as that.
“You've got a tremendous consolidation of power in the hands of four or five unelected individuals and companies who then decide who has access to the public square. I mean, that's basically what it is. They can destroy you economically…. They can decide what information people get and so forth. That's a tremendous amount of power in the hands of five industries.
“Not only can they do that, but they can destroy competitors, as you've seen in some of these antitrust investigations that are now happening. So we have to deal with them for what they are. These are not free market competitive companies. These are oligopolies, in essence, that control not not simply an industry, but the access to both the marketplace and the public square. And they enjoy complete protection from any liability.
“When you decide, ‘Okay, we're a platform, and we're just a bulletin board, and people can put stuff on the bulletin board,’ that's one thing. But when you take the step of saying, ‘We're a bulletin board, but we have editorial control over that bulletin board, and not only are we even deciding who can post, but we're deciding whether some story about Joe Biden's son's laptop is going to be allowed or not, we're deciding whether you can talk about whether there was a lab leak that created COVID,’ [that’s another thing].
“Because it was a time when both of those things were not allowed. They were basically censored, and [you were] told that you couldn't discuss these things…. And then when you do that around an election season in particular, or you can decide to silence candidates and so forth, now you're dealing with something very specific.
“I think, at a minimum, there has to be an ability, if they've caused economic damage to someone and/or reputational damage as a result of some decision that they've made, to be able to sue them for that editorial decision that they have made. And the other is, we have to ensure that whatever impediments exist in the marketplace to competition, to somebody coming in and being competitive against them, that we have laws that allow that to happen, and that require the Justice Department and others to to be pretty strict and aggressive about antitrust enforcement.
“Now, the irony of this issue is that it's bipartisan. Both Democrats and Republicans want to take on Big Tech. The difference is, the Democrats want to take them on because they think they're not doing enough to censor….They don't agree with Republicans, and most of the country, [who] are concerned that you can now basically be wiped out and destroyed because of so much power in the hands of these individuals. And you know what? We'll learn more in the years to come, I think, about how much…[that power was] actually wielded in ways we haven't even imagined.”
On censorship on YouTube:
“You have basically an internal, unaccountable censorship board with no due process. And look, if they were just one of multiple companies that hosted that, [it would be one thing.] But they are the global leader. And if you're not on YouTube, you can't function in that space. You can't distribute. There's no distribution model, because they've made sure no one else can enter that space and compete against them.
“It's an extraordinary amount of power over the public discourse and the ability to conduct business, not to mention politics, and enter the public square. And we've just never had anything like it. It's more like a utility at this point than it is like one of multiple service providers, because they have that level of exclusivity and control over the market share that they've established.”
On how to defang Big Tech:
“There's two ways to get to the core of it, because you have to operate on the basis of facts. You have to go and say, ‘Okay, look, these are the emails that show that these people were colluding to do X, Y or Z.’ There are only two ways to get a hold of something like that.
“The first is, somebody sues them, and you go to court, and there's discovery, and the court compels them to produce emails and the like. And some of those cases are out there, and they're percolating, but that takes a while.
“The other is congressional oversight, a congressional committee like Judiciary or Commerce. I'm not a member of either one of those committees, but I would hope that if we have a majority, we would use that power to subpoena the records of these companies and say we want to see, you know, what you're asking for. And you have to encourage whistleblowers inside these companies to come forward and provide that as well. That's one of the functions Congress has. We can't press charges against them, but congressional hearings are a way of introducing facts into the public square, and you can use subpoena power to do it.
“I think what has to happen here is,...we [have to] use that power to get to the heart of this issue by, first and foremost, producing information that is usable, that you can act upon, and that can inform the American public about the true nature of it. And that's what we need to see happen…. We don't have a majority now. But once you take the majority, you can't get complacent about it and say, ‘Well, I don't want to do it.’”
On Republicans’ reluctance to take on Big Tech in the past:
“Here's the dynamic at play. If I'm brutally honest, for many, many years—like when I first got here 10 years ago or whatever—the conventional theory was: ‘You have to navigate. Yeah, the media kind of leans a little left, but you have to play this game with them, and you need to care a little bit about what they think or they're saying.’
“I think we've now reached the point in the minds of most people on my side of the aisle that the overwhelming majority of mainstream media in America isn't just biased. They have preconceived narratives that they've settled upon, and…nothing you do or say is going to impress them by the time they call you. If they even call you, they've already written their story. They've just got to get your name in there to have some claim of what have you.
“I think that's really what's happened at this point, is that people have stopped trying to impress the sort of governing class in both the media and, frankly, in big business, and no longer really care about what they think or say or what the criticism is going to be….
“I…understand that our constituency is not the editorial board at The Washington Post. Our constituency is not clueless liberal commentators on CNN. That's not our constituency. Our constituency are hardworking, everyday people who see this for what it is. And to the extent they're frustrated, they're frustrated, not that it's happening, but that no one is willing to do anything about it because the price you pay is high. They want people who are going to fight.
“I think that that may be the sea change, that you will see different behavior as opposed to people that are more institutional and, you know, grew up politically in an era in which you could theoretically get a fair shake, potentially from some newspaper or media outlet. Those days are long gone. It doesn't exist anymore. And we shouldn't pretend that that's even possible.”
On our national institutions:
“I believe in institutions. The problem is not the institution. The problem is the institutions themselves have been corrupted and undermined. That's the problem. The problem is not that I change. The problem is that they've changed. You know, there was a time in this country where our institutions worked, and they worked because the people there had a commitment to the greater common good in the country. But now the institutions have been deeply politicized and or weaponized.
“Here's a really good example. If a judge rules in a way that Democrats agree with, you're not allowed to criticize that judge or any federal agency. You're not allowed to criticize the judge. It's your fault if someone wants to go after that judge. If you criticize the IRS…, suddenly you see articles appearing [saying,] ‘IRS agents getting a lot of death threats.’
“But when a judge in Florida rules in favor of what Trump asked for, which is a special master, they've smeared it. I mean, the articles were written, and they were ready to pounce. ‘Legal scholars, legal experts’.... They're not legal experts. These are liberal, left-wing legal experts who are going to smear her no matter what her ruling was. That sort of double standard tells you that the institutions are corrupted.
“I respect the judiciary. I can criticize a judge,...say I disagree with [how] a judge ruled, without saying you should go outside his home and try to murder him tomorrow, which is what happened to Brett Kavanaugh. So what's happened is, the institutions have been weaponized against the American people. And what's happening now is, criticism of an institution, if it's an institution that's doing what the left wants? That's dangerous, that's a threat. It's your fault if someone does something bad to them….
“I'm not in favor of people becoming violent against IRS agents or FBI agents. But if…entities are acting in a way that the left doesn't like, then the border agents are evil people that are whipping migrants…. They had no problem attacking them, and [saying,] ‘ICE needs to be abolished, and police departments need to be abolished.’ So it's that double standard….
“I would love…strong institutions that work. I cannot be as supportive of a system that's been politicized and weaponized, because we are a nation. And what a nation means is a group of people who agree to live together under the same laws. It doesn't mean you're going to get your way all the time. We have a process for deciding that. But [equal justice under the law,] that's what holds the nation together. That's not what these people are asking for. They're saying we want to be a group of people that agree to live under the laws we want. And anyone who doesn't follow our laws is evil and should be characterized as a threat to the order.
“That’s what the institutions have become…. I can't be supportive of that. I'd love to get back to a place where our institutions actually work, our schools actually teach, not indoctrinate,...[and] our military actually defends, not spreads social propaganda.”
On polls suggesting new support for the Democrats:
“In essence, there's a whole subset of Americans that refuse to talk to people. I think there's all kinds of ways you can manipulate polling, I think, and they do it. I'm not saying they're changing the answers people are giving. I'm saying if you change the profile of who you're polling, or even the way by which you're polling them, you're going to get different outcomes. I don't know when we're going to learn our lesson, but it's candy, right? It's clickbait for every news agency in America that loves to run the latest poll, because people want to know the score of the game. I pay no attention to that….
“The reality of the issue…[of] abortion is pretty straightforward. The only thing that's changed in America is that now voters are going to get to decide what the abortion laws are in their state via their state legislative leaders.
“California is going to have different abortion laws than Florida, and all kinds of other different [laws.] That’s how federalism works. If you want to live in a place that believes in all these radical things, you should move to California. A lot of people have left California for places like Florida, because they don't want to live in a place where prosecutors don't prosecute crime. Federalism works. I think during the pandemic, federalism saved us. Otherwise, all 50 states would have been shut down….
“If you think about it, that is really the lesson here…. There's just not that many undecided voters or persuadable voters in America left. People are pretty polarized right now. The polling sort of reflects that. In the end, I think we should always go in expecting very close elections everywhere. The side who does a better job of getting their people out to vote is going to win.”