Marco Rubio on Principles & Values
But America is exceptional because we believe that every life, at every stage, is precious, and that everyone everywhere has a God-given right to go as far as their talents and hard work will take them.
If we can get our economy healthy again, our children will be the most prosperous Americans ever. And if we do not, we will forever be known as the generation responsible for America's decline.
Some are starting to believe that our government leaders just can't or won't make the right choices anymore. But our strength has never come from the White House or the Capitol. It's always come from our people. A people united by the American idea that, if you have a dream and you are willing to work hard, nothing should be impossible.
Each time our nation has faced great challenges, what has kept us together was our shared hope for a better life. Now, let that hope bring us together again. To solve the challenges of our time and write the next chapter in the amazing story of the greatest nation man has ever known.
The new slogan for the president's campaign is "Forward." A government that spends $1 trillion more than it takes in? An $800 billion stimulus that created more debt than jobs? A government intervention into health care paid for with higher taxes and cuts to Medicare? Scores of new rules and regulations? These ideas don't move us "Forward," they take us "Backwards."
These are tired and old big government ideas. Ideas that threaten to make America more like the rest of the world, instead of helping the world become more like America.
Under Barack Obama, the only "Change" is that "Hope" has been hard to find. Instead of inspiring us by reminding us of what makes us special, he divides us against each other. Hope and Change has become Divide and Conquer.
Sometimes, I represented the campaign at public events. At one of those occasions, a local Spanish-language radio station asked for a Dole surrogate to debate a Democrat on air. I called every Spanish-speaking Republican legislator I could find. They were all unavailable or unwilling. So I had to do it myself. It didn't go well.
I was not well prepared. My opponent was an experienced operative. He knew all of Dole's vulnerabilities and easily countered the few obvious talking points I used to criticize President Clinton. He made short work of me. It was a valuable, if painful, lesson. I vowed I would never again show up for an interview or debate before I had done all I could to make certain I was the best-prepared person in the room.
We were living in my mother-in-law's house. I had given up my car. Still we were struggling to make ends meet. The only solution, I concluded, was to resign from the legislature and practice full-time again.
I entered my church, walked to the front pew, opened the kneeler and prayed. What did He want me to do? I prayed His will be done, and for the strength to accept it.
On my way back to my mother-in-law's house, my cell phone rang. The headhunter was calling to let me know a law firm had expressed an interest in my services. I had just been on my knees in prayer asking for God's help. Now a door suddenly appeared to open and offer me a way out of my predicament. Two weeks later, I drove to the firm's Hollywood office for my first day in my new job.
I also wanted the house to become a vibrant laboratory of ideas, a place that conceived and pursued big, bold policy ideas.
To that end, [we decided on] writing a book that could serve as a guide for a policy agenda similar to the Contract with America. I traveled the state over the next two years, joining other members at events with voters we called "idearaisers." We picked the best ideas they offered and turned them into a contract with Florida, which we later published and titled "100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future."
"God is real," I told my colleagues [in my final speech as Speaker]. "He loves everyone who had ever lived."
I should have given the speech long before, but I had been conditioned by political correctness, by the prevailing notion that a discussion of one's faith didn't belong in the public realm. No matter how hard we try though, we cannot keep God out of our lives, out of every moment, every aspiration, every failure and every success. Whether we acknowledge it or not, He inhabits our lives completely. It had taken me too long, but I was determined not to leave the house without paying public tribute to God, for the blessings He had bestowed on me and on our country.
I'm not proud of my initial reaction to the news. If Crist runs for the Senate, I thought to myself, I'll run for governor. It made political sense. I had spent 9 years in state government, and I knew Tallahassee politics and state issues very well. But my reaction was strictly grounded in ambition. I missed public service, no matter how hard I tried to convince myself and others that I didn't. All it took was the availability of a high office to expose how intensely my ambition still burned.
I was in Orlando when the National Review hit the newsstands. The story was as good as the cover. It read in part:
"On paper, it looks like a mismatch between an unbeatable juggernaut and a doomed also-ran. Yet Crist may be vulnerable. Rubio is one of the brightest young stars on the right. Their contest could become the sleeper race of 2010."
We needed to help Kendrick Meek get free airtime. Debates were the best way to do that. And so, 2 days after the Democratic primary, we agreed to 7 televised debates. They served their purpose. They kept Kendrick in the news and relevant. Thanks in large part to Kendrick's effectiveness as a debater, Crist never had a clear field to court Democratic votes.
The 7 debates served as a regular reminder that there was an actual Democrat in the race. Kendrick performed very well in all of them.
RUBIO: I've never had a heckler at the debate. I've always had them in the audience.
Upon hearing the heckler line, the panel, the audience and even Kendrick Meek broke out into laughter. Crist appeared as if the frustrations of the entire campaign had finally gotten the best of him.
CRIST: That's the way it is. Welcome to the NFL.
I gathered myself and pivoted to what the race was all about:
RUBIO: I apologize. I mean, I've had this heckler going on for 2 minutes now. This election is about the people watching whose country is going in the wrong direction, who understand that, if we keep doing what we are doing now, we are going to be the first Americans in history to leave our children worse off than ourselves. That's what this election is about. I was hoping that's what this debate would be about. And I hope that's what the [campaign] is about.
Senators are always looking to join with one or more members of the opposite party to sponsor legislation. The rules of the Senate make it impossible for the most legislation to pass without some bipartisan support.
But there are other motivations for bipartisan cooperation as well. First, your constituents appreciate it. Most Americans want to see Republicans and Democrats working together for the good of the country. It's refreshing, too, to be able to break free from the usual constraints of partisanship and work with colleagues on the other side of the aisle. Even on issues where there isn't bipartisan agreement, most senators respect opposing points of view, especially if those views rest on principle and not politics.
"He was totally into it," his cousin reported. Marco attended LDS youth groups & often walked to chapel with his family because his mother could not drive. The cousins idolized the Osmonds, the family singing group whose chart-topping success made them the most famous Mormons of their era. The Donny & Marie show, featuring 2 of the siblings, had been a TV hit.
Marco, Veronica, and their cousin like to perform Osmond songs at family get-togethers. "Tony"--as the cousins called Marco, referencing his middle name, Antonio--was so entranced by the Osmonds that he joined his cousins for their annual trip to Utah to tour the pops group's recording studio. "It was just the thing to do," Michelle Denis said. "Then we'd go hang out at BYU."
Regardless of the chronology, Michelle Denis says the Rubios went back to Catholicism at the urging of Marco, which would have meant he was guiding the family's faith around the age of 13. "He really convinced the whole family to switch religions," she said.
The future senator did not follow the pattern of some budding political stars, joining every club and topping every list. In the school yearbook he appears less as an exclamation point than as a parenthetical phrase: wearing a string of pooka shells around his neck and laughing at another student's joke, donating blood, standing in the back row of the class photo of Mrs. Nott's 5th period class. Rubio has said that he "struggled to fit in," and that "some classmates mocked him as `too American.'" He was a good student, but he wasn't the big man on campus.
The team's practices could be brutal, hours spent in the wilting Miami heat and humidity. If a player didn't want it badly, it would show. Some couldn't hack it. Marco kept coming back. "He pushed himself to the limit," his older brother, who was a star high school quarterback, later said. "He just does not stop."
Marco doesn't appear in the scant coverage of the team from that period. But his coaches and teammates remember him as a hard-nosed player they didn't need to worry about. "You could always tell he understood the game from an intellectual standpoint even if he wasn't the fastest guy or the biggest guy out there," said a defensive lineman on the team.
Muxo's pitch to his recruits was twofold: come to Tarkio and you can keep playing football, plus you'll get an education, mostly for free. Muxo told Marco and the other recruits about Tarkio football players who had gone on to become surgeons and attorneys. Marco was sold. He was beating the odds. According to a 1989 article in his school newspaper, only 14% of the previous year's class were attending 4-year colleges.
Marco showed up at Tarkio in August 1989. Everything about the place was a culture shock, even on the football field. When placekickers booted the ball through the uprights it literally landed in a cornfield.
The month before Marco started classes, US News & World Report published a list of the colleges with the highest default rates for federally granted student loans. The headline of the chart was "A Class of Deadbeats." Tarkio College topped the list, with a staggering 78.7% default rate.
In 1990, at the end of his 1st year at Tarkio, Marco himself decided to go home. Muxo believes the school's troubles played into the decision, but there were other factors too, including just plain culture shock. The next year Tarkio was gone. The college, which had survived for 109 years, closed amid the ballooning scandal over its questionable loan practices.
The college's website touts the campus as "the Gateway to the Gators," the University of Florida's mascot. He also met a girl. In 1990 a pretty Columbiana named Jeanette Dousdebes caught his eye at a party in their neighborhood in Miami. He was 19, she was 17. They had both attended South Miami High School but hadn't known each other there. He teased her at the party and she thought he was funny. They would marry 8 years later.
After a year at Santa Fe, Marco transferred to the University of Florida. He lived on student loans and grants and took a part-time job. He also scored a prime internship, working for Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the 1st Republican woman elected to the US House of Representatives.
Just over 5,800 people live in West Miami. Excluding the island of Cuba itself, it is one of the most Cuban places on Earth. In 2000, 2 years after Rubio's 1st run for elected office, more than 61% of the residents were Cuban and 84% were Hispanic, according to the Census. Only 3 other US cities, all in Florida -Westchester, Hialeah, and Coral Terrace-claim a greater percentage of Cubans.
Rubio had summoned the lawmakers to the Orlando hotel to help him plan his 2 year tenure as Florida speaker, a post he would ascend to in November 2006. Since coming to Tallahassee as a virtual unknown in 1999, Rubio had learned how to accumulate and manage power in Florida. He had learned that Miami couldn't serve as a singular base, but that he had to extend his influence throughout the state. He had learned that he had to think 3 moves ahead of his opponent. Rubio found an interior passageway to power that others could easily have missed.
Later Rubio founded another committee, Floridians for Conservative Leadership in Government. Its stated purpose was to advance conservative ideas, but about 2/3 of the $386,000 it raised went to political consultants, including more than $100,000 for a project Rubio launched to collect ideas for improving state government. "I am proud of the work we have done to advance conservative ideas and principles," Rubio would later say. "The purpose of the committees was to provide a platform to pay for the costs associated with this work."
Rubio and his staff tended to explain away discrepancies as clerical error. "The bookkeeping was not always perfect." His defenders promoted what would become a stock narrative. Rubio was simply sloppy, but not corrupt.
"God is real," Rubio told his colleagues in May 2008 during his farewell speech at the Florida House of Representatives. "God is real. I don't care what courts across this country say, I don't care what laws we pass. God is real."
1-1/2 years later, in the flush of his Senate win and with his ascension to national stardom assured, Rubio opened his victory speech with another statement of faith: "Let me begin tonight by acknowledging a simple but profound truth. We are all children of a powerful and great God. I bear witness to that tonight as so many of you do in your own lives." These truths, he said, must always be acknowledged in everything we do and in everywhere we go."
Rubio opted to ignore the entreaties, which seems like a logical response. But by the fall his claim stared to get a bit of traction. Other bloggers were picking up the string and writing their own birther pieces
Rubio became a welcome guest at Tea Party events across the state. At their urging, Dick Armey endorsed Rubio on July 4, 2009, describing Rubio as "an inspiring leader for the next generation of the conservative movement."
Yet despite the obvious advantages these fiscal conservatives found in Rubio, Crist enjoyed an enormous lead in the first polls. But the Tea Party had a champion and got to work. Slowly, the Tea Party movement's support helped bring Rubio to the public eye.
His ambition, though, again proved greater than his ability to find consensus. Both his tax plan and spending cap made it out of committee, but as the House was forced to make the deepest budget cuts in state history, the Senate refused to even take up the plans.
In the end, Rubio's two terms as speaker [ending in 2008] had yielded no flashy tax overhaul, but the House did pass 57 of his "100 Innovative Ideas."
RUBIO: Sure. The Tea Party movement has been mischaracterized in the press as some sort of an organization. Tea Parties are where people go and what people do. It's not what they are and it is not an organization. If you go to a tea party, what you're going to find there are people that largely have never been involved in American politics.
Q: So why don't you go? We get this from [many] Tea Party groups.
RUBIO: I have gone to 15, 20 of these around the state. I've met with multiple groups. If there's a formal vetting process, I've not been made aware of it. But I can tell you that I'm proud of my association with the Tea Party folks and the fact that we have attended multiple events
CRIST: Actually, Reagan was a Democrat before he was a Republican. So if you want to talk about Reagan, let's talk about him.
RUBIO: Ronald Reagan had a great question he asked during his campaign: Are you better off today than you were four years ago? And for Floridians, there's a powerful answer to that. We have the highest unemployment record in our history We have record foreclosures. And we have a governor that supported Barack Obama's stimulus package. That doesn't sound like a Reagan record to me, and I think it makes the answer to that question very easy. Floridians are not better off than they were four years ago since you became governor. And now your promise is to take those ideas to Washington. I'm running for Senate because if I get there, I will stand up to this. We can't trust you, Governor, to stand up to Barack Obama.
Rubio's political resume essentially began right after he graduated from the University of Miami Law School. He served as a city commissioner in West Miami before winning his first term in the Florida House of Representatives in 2000. He was sworn in as speaker in 2006, the youngest person and the first Hispanic to hold that position. The centerpiece of his speech is a sweeping homage to conservative principle. "We are not debating stimulus bills or tax codes," he said. "We are debating the essence of what government should be and what role it should play."
We weren't directly affected by the increase in crime, but it was one more concern added to my parents' growing fears that their changed circumstances would rob them of their hard-won security. The disco-centered social scene in Miami, which they considered a decadent lifestyle for young people, was yet another worry. They acted decisively, even precipitously, whenever they felt their aspirations threatened.
Las Vegas is not often the first place that comes to mind for people looking to raise their children in a wholesome environment. Yet in many respects it would prove to be the family-friendly community my parents hoped it would be. Las Vegas would offer the security and community values my parents sought, but our life there began discouragingly. My parents made the decision to move in the fall of 1978.
I had been baptized in the Catholic Church, and when I was very young had regularly attended Mass with my mother. But ours had not been a very Catholic home for some time. By the time I had entered grade school, weekly Mass was no longer part of our family routine, and I had yet to receive the Church's sacraments.
I don't believe my mother ever really understood Mormon theology, but her intense desire to be part of a community with upstanding values and caring, cohesive families made her an eager convert. My mother, sister and I were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, and began attending Sunday services at the church next door to my school.
We would remain members of the church for just 3 years, and my father's lukewarm embrace of Mormonism deterred us from applying for an interview. In contrast to my parents, I immersed myself in LDS theology, and understood it as well as an 8 year old mind can.
The Mormon Church provided the sound moral structure my mother had wanted for us, and a circle of friends from stable, God-fearing families. When we left the church a few years later, mostly at my instigation, we did so with gratitude for its considerable contribution to our happiness.
Who was I really to them? Someone who bore a physical resemblance to a son or grandson? No. I represented their children and grandchildren's generation. My success, and the success of any Cuban American of my generation, was their answer. Our lives, accomplishments and contributions were a lasting tribute to theirs. Even as a boy, I had grasped that my family's emotional investment in my happiness and success was as great as their investment of time, work and self-denial. Now I recognized that an entire generation of Cuban exiles had the same emotional investment in my success.
On the streets of the small city of West Miami, in the early months of 1998, I discovered who I was. I was an heir to two generations of unfulfilled dreams. I was the end of their story.
Jeanette and I had dated for 7 years. I wasn't frightened or nervous about getting married. Marrying her seemed the most natural and sensible decision in my life. The night before our wedding, I went to bed for the last time under the same roof as my parents. I had gone away to college, but I had lived with them most of my life. Now the last of their children was leaving home. I felt nostalgic and a little sad. It was the natural order of things, but I couldn't help feeling I was abandoning them. Before I went to sleep I said a familiar prayer.
On Oct. 17, 1998, Jeanette and I exchanged our vows at the Church of the Little Flower in Coral Gables. We have been blessed. We have 4 healthy, happy children. We are not wealthy, but we have more than our parents ever had.
Yet, theologically, I hadn't left the Catholic Church. Despite our growing relationship with Christ Fellowship, all of our children were baptized Catholics. And on many occasions, especially during the Lenten season, something in me still yearned for my Catholic roots.
I loved Christ Fellowship--I still do. And yet, despite the power of its message, I could never shake the feeling that for me something was missing. I craved, literally, the Most Blessed Sacrament, Holy Communion. I wondered why there couldn't be a church that offered both a powerful, contemporary gospel and the actual body and blood of Jesus.
The answer is simple: because I am privileged. I am privileged to be a citizen of the single greatest society in all of human history. There's never been a nation like the US, ever. It begins with the principles of our founding documents, which recognize that our rights come from God, not government.
These principles embody the commitment to individual liberty that has made us the freest people in history. They also made possible our free enterprise economy, which has made us the most prosperous people in history. The result is an America that is the only place in the world where it doesn't matter who your parents are or where you came from. You can be anything you are willing to work hard to be.
When I was growing up my grandfather lived with us, and told me: Because of where he was born and who he was born to, there was only so much he was able to accomplish. But he wanted me to know that I would not have those limits, that there was no dreams unavailable to me. And he was right.
See, I was not born to a wealthy or connected family. And yet I have never felt limited by the circumstances of my birth. Why did my dreams have the chance that his didn't? Because I am privileged. I am privileged to be a citizen of the single greatest society in all of human history.
I charged about $160,000 in party-authorized expenses on my party-issued American Express card. 89% of it was for travel, lodging, car rentals, fuel and meals. In fact, during my two years as speaker, we saved Florida taxpayers $32,000 by having the party, and not the state, pay for my travel costs to and from Tallahassee. I identified the [personal] charges and paid the costs myself, directly to American Express. The Republican Party of Florida didn't pay a single one of them.
Nevertheless, in hindsight, I wish that none of them had ever been charged. In politics appearances are as important as reality.
A St. Petersburg Times investigation later found that Rubio had also double-billed the state and the GOP credit card for eight flights. After the report, he admitted the error and repaid the party $3,000.
Then, in 2007, Rubio finally found a cash buyer for his first house, who paid $380,000 up front--a $105K windfall over Rubio's 2003 purchase price. The buyer was the mother of the lobbyist who spent months lobbying Rubio for his critical support of an insuranc law. Rubio voted for the bill a few months afterwards.
Did the home sale buy his vote? Rubio says no. "My understanding was that [the buyer] had some life insurance proceeds that she was using to buy it, and she was willing to close on it quickly."
RUBIO: Those allegations have been proven false. Here are the facts. This is not taxpayer money. It was raised for the purposes of political advancement, for advancing a political agenda. And that's what the money was spent on. Now, there were some occasions where we had some personal expenses which I identified and I made payments on out of my own pocket at the time those expenses were made. All this money's been accounted for.
The Tea Party movement is a populist conservative social movement in the United States that emerged in 2009 through a series of locally and nationally coordinated protests. The protests were partially in response to several Federal laws: the stimulus package; te healthcare bill; and the TARP bailouts. The name "Tea Party" refers to the Boston Tea Party of 1773, the source of the phrase, "No Taxation Without Representation."
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