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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio gets tough questions on FOX News Sunday



rubiofoxnewssunday.jpgAfter a week of glowing news coverage, Sen. Marco Rubio faced some tougher questions this morning on FOX News Sunday, pressed on whether his plan to vote against raising the debt limit is a "stunt" and to explain his stance on Libya.

Rubio last week called for tougher military action but this morning conceded Libyan people do not want to see U.S. troops on the ground.

On Tuesday, Rubio wrote in the Wall Street Journal that he'll vote no on the raising how much the federal government can borrow unless it's the last time ever and Congress passes a balanced budget amendment and reforms Social Security, among other things. But FOX's Chris Wallace hinted at the near impossibility of that.

"Aren't you pulling the same stunt, if you will, that Barack Obama did when he was a senator in 2006 when he voted against increasing the debt limit but he knew that a lot of other senators would do the right thing, so he could make his political gesture but they would keep the country out of default?"

Rubio: "The difference between that vote and what he did and what I'm doing is I am saying 'Here's what we should do instead.' I'm offering a clear alternative. ..."

But Wallace pressed Rubio on whether he would still vote against raising the debt limit if he were the deciding vote. Rubio dodged the question.

"I don't ever want to vote to put this country into default and it's exactly what we're doing if all we do is extend the debt limit and do not start dealing with the fundamental fact that the American government spends money it doesn't have. ... Anyone who votes to continue to do that is voting to default, eventually."

Wallace then said experts say it would be catastrophic if the U.S. went into default by failing to pay interest on its debt, making it more expensive for the government to borrow and raising interest rates for mortgages and consumer loans. "House Speaker John Boehner says it would send our economy into a tailspin," Wallace said. "So let me ask my question again: If you were the deciding vote, if you were the 51st vote, are you saying that if your conditions aren't met you would vote to put the country into default?"

Rubio: "I would never want to see our country in default. Which is exactly where these guys are taking us because they refuse to make reforms."

Wallace: "But is it yes or no, sir?"

Rubio: "I'm not voting for simply raising the debt limit unless, as I outlined in my op/ed, it's the last time we do it and it's coupled with meaningful reforms that puts us on a path toward fiscal sanity."

Wallace then turned to Libya. Rubio last week called for the U.S. to authorize military force to overthrow Muammar el-Qaddafi. "Are you willing, do you want, to put U.S. ground troops on the ground in Libya?"

Rubio said the U.S. should not announce its tactics but then conceded that Libyan rebels "don't want that, and I don't think that's the ideal scenario."

The freshman senator said Obama was right not to take arming the rebels off the table, but said the U.S. would first have to learn more about the rebels. Wallace also put Rubio on the spot about the U.S. making decisions on its own in Libya. "We should always try to have allies," Rubio acknowledged. "But we have to recognize that we have unique capabilities, as Secretary Clinton and others have said, that our allies do not have. So American leadership is essential to missions like this being successful."

Transcript here.


[Last modified: Monday, April 4, 2011 12:17pm]


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