Florida Senator Marco Rubio said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend, that President Barack Obama’s administration’s cooperation with a Hollywood moviemaker on a film about the top-secret Navy unit that killed Osama bin Laden is the type of action that could “impact the ability to carry out similar operations in the future.”
(This is not a legal transcript. Bloomberg LP cannot guarantee its accuracy.)
AL HUNT: Welcome back. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the Republican Party’s rising star, joins us now in the studio. Senator, thank you for being with us.
MARCO RUBIO: Thank you.
HUNT: You’ve proposed a bipartisan piece of legislation, Startup 2.0, that seeks to - seeks to hire for immigrants, especially those with math and science skills, to enable them to stay here, get jobs. Earlier legislation collapsed. It got caught up in the large immigration debate, the same thing that’s going to happen this time.
RUBIO: Yeah. So the bill does a couple of things. Obviously it does things about capital formation. It starts with a very true belief that new jobs are almost always created by new businesses. And so we want to make it easier for people to be able to do that. And I think that part is the least exciting. It’s very important, the tax treatment, but the immigration part of it is where it’s innovative.
So here’s what we keep hearing. Number one is if you’ve got money and you want to invest it in the United States and you want to create jobs, it becomes really hard to do that. It becomes really hard to legally come here and do that. So we create a visa, an investor visa for people who come here and create a business without at least two jobs that are not relatives, and then we allow them to renew that if within three or five years they employ three or more people and they’re not relatives.
HUNT: And they can stay?
RUBIO: And they can stay on a legal -
HUNT: Should pass, but it just gets caught up in that, as I say, that bigger question (ph).
RUBIO: Well, and the other thing we do is with Ph.D and master’s degrees. We’re going to make it easier for people that graduate from American universities with a Ph.D or a master’s to stay here as well. And this week a very interesting article that talked about how China is trying to initiate a reverse brain drain, in essence attract back many of the Chinese expatriates that came, studied, and stayed in the United States. So I hope it doesn’t get caught up in the bigger issues.
HUNT: Let me talk about that larger issue. And you are developing, you haven’t finalized, some kind of compromised Dream Act, if you will. Would you grant a pathway to citizenship to veterans who are honorably discharged from the military?
RUBIO: Yeah. I think on the military service part, it’s not nearly as controversial.
HUNT: So you would give them a pathway?
RUBIO: Right. I think anybody who’s honorably discharged from the service of this country -
HUNT: Gets citizenship, even though they didn’t come here legally.
RUBIO: Well, obviously you get a green card, then it’s citizenship. But it’s a very different process, and very uncontroversial.
HUNT: And for students though, they’d have to get in another queue?
RUBIO: Yeah. And so that - the way that process - what I can tell you about what we’ve designed already and have been talking about is that we look at a very specific group of kids that came here before a certain age and lived here continuously, graduate from school, go on to college or some advanced education. They would get a non-immigrant visa, the way thousands of other people have non-immigrant visas. And that would allow them to stay here legally, work here legally, live here legally. At some point in the future, they will be allowed to apply for their residency, like anybody else would, not a special path (ph).
HUNT: But they wouldn’t have to go back?
RUBIO: No, they would not. As long as they have their visa -
HUNT: Stay here, get in another queue.
RUBIO: Right, as long as their visa is active. In essence, as long as they renew their non-immigrant visa and comply with all of its conditions.
HUNT: Are you confident you’re going to get Mitt Romney to sign on to this?
RUBIO: Well, I think he needs to see the details of it. Here’s what I’m confident of. I’m confident that we’re going to be able to produce a piece of legislation that’s going to help these kids, not encourage illegal immigration in the future, and can the support of the majority of Republicans in the Senate.
HUNT: When will it come out?
RUBIO: Well, we’re waiting for - what we’re waiting for is -
HUNT: In June?
RUBIO: Well, here’s - it depends. We’re waiting on what the Congressional Budget Office and the Congressional Research Office tells us. Because one of the things we’re going to get asked is how many people will this apply to and how much money is it going to cost. And if I don’t have the answers to those questions when I file this, it’s not going to -
HUNT: When would you like to file it?
RUBIO: As soon as we can. I think that the -
HUNT: Is it reasonable to talk about June?
RUBIO: I wouldn’t want to date it with a specific month. I would just say that as soon as we can. Certainly it’s not something we want to wait any longer than we have to to do.
HUNT: We talked about Governor Romney, who in the primaries went out of his way to criticize Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich on their - some of their pro-immigration stance. He hired as a policy adviser the virulently anti-immigration person Kris Kobach. He has - as the Republican nominee he’s got a lot of pivoting to do to get even the 31 percent of the Latino vote that McCain got, didn’t he?
RUBIO: Well, a couple things. First of all, there is a lot of frustration in America over the illegal immigration problem. There is. And there’s a lot of frustration in the Hispanic community about illegal immigration. And I think Governor Romney gave voice to those frustrations. And those are valid frustrations. I think the other thing he’s done which hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention is he’s talked about how he’s pro-legal immigration, how he wants to modernize the legal immigration program in our country so that it works better not just for America, but for the immigrants.
And here’s why that’s important. If we modernize our legal immigration system, if we improve our legal immigration system, and back it up with some enforcement mechanism like E-Verify and an increased border security, the illegal immigration in America will significantly diminish and how to deal with the millions of people that are here without documents becomes easier. Not easy, but it becomes easier if we had a functional guest-worker program, if we had visa reforms like the ones we’re proposing and others, and if we’re able to accommodate these young people that find themselves here without documents through no fault of their own.
HUNT: Do you think that Romney can do better than McCain with Latino voters?
RUBIO: I do.
HUNT: You really do? Thirty-five, 40 percent?
RUBIO: I do. And here’s why. Because the economy and the downturn in the economy has dramatically impacted Americans of Hispanic descent. And I think the president cannot make the argument to any Americans, much less Americans of Hispanic descent, that they’re better off today than they were three and a half years ago when he took over.
HUNT: Do you think that someone like Kris Kobach is a constructive force in this debate?
RUBIO: Well, I don’t know Kris Kobach.
HUNT: But you know who he is and -
RUBIO: Look, I think he gives voice to a real frustration.
HUNT: But you don’t find - you don’t agree with him.
RUBIO: Well, I don’t agree with everything he stands on. I certainly agree with him that we have an illegal immigration problem in America. I think there’s differences of opinion in the Republican Party about a bunch of these things.
HUNT: Let me switch subjects to Bain Capital. Republicans don’t like the Obama criticism of private equity. But a simple question. Capitalism is creative destruction. Why is it all right to talk about the creative part but not the destruction part?
RUBIO: Well, I think the bigger issue that people are upset about, and certainly that I think I question, is that behind the ads isn’t just the performance of Bain Capital, but the insinuation that somehow Mitt Romney is a bad person who doesn’t care about the plight of these individuals. And I think that’s deeply unfair. If you disagree with Mitt Romney’s policies, if he doesn’t agree with his policies on taxes, on regulation, and on the economy, let’s have a debate about the ideas.
But what really troubles me about modern American politics, and sadly what’s increasingly troubling me about this president, is that he goes straight for the argument that his opponents are bad human beings, bad people that don’t care about the plight of other Americans. And I think that’s wrong.
HUNT: You’re on the Intelligence Committee. The Obama administration has granted Hollywood film makers unprecedented access and information about the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden to help them make a movie. Is this appropriate?
RUBIO: I think it’s part of a troubling trend of chest thumping, showing how smart and good our intelligence services. And they certainly are, but in the process trying to impress people by what this administration was able to do, whether it was on that raid or other -
HUNT: So you think it was wrong to give that kind of access?
RUBIO: Not only was it wrong to give that access, we had leaks about the - the new bomb technology. That’s very troubling. We have a recent book by a former CIA official that has things in there that perhaps shouldn’t be in that book. I think there is a growing trend of leaks that threaten America’s operational capacity in the intelligence world. And I think if you look at some of the things that have found its way onto the screen, not just in the movie, but some of the specials around the anniversary of the Bin Laden raid, I think one has to be concerned that that’s going to impact the ability to carry out similar operations in the future.
HUNT: Senator, final question. You said that Barack Obama is the most divisive figure in modern American history. Do you think he’s more divisive than Richard Nixon, and how?
RUBIO: Well, Richard Nixon was divisive because of the issues.
HUNT: But you think Obama’s more divisive than Nixon.
RUBIO: I think that Barack Obama deliberately divides Americans against each other for purposes of political gain. And I, at least in my lifetime, have not experienced a president who deliberately went out and tried to pit Americans against each other.
HUNT: You’re running a lot (ph) for a couple years with Nixon, but more divisive than Nixon?
RUBIO: In terms of his policies, in terms of how he pits Americans against each other, yes. I believe that certainly today. Obviously he’s not guilty of a Watergate-type scandal, and - but what I’m talking about is the deliberate strategy of telling Americans that the reason why they’re not doing well is because other Americans are doing too well or pitting men versus women. It’s a constant, weekly effort to divide Americans each other in hopes of winning an election. And I think that’s divisive and it’s wrong. And I know of no precedent to that level like what we’ve seen.
HUNT: Senator Marco Rubio, thank you so much for being with us.
RUBIO: Thank you.
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