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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio: 'It's humbling'



img_2665.jpgMarco Rubio in a pre-swearing in interview said he feels humbled and ready to focus on the job ahead, starting with repealing and replacing the health care law and tackling the national debt and federal spending.

He made light of all the attention he's garnered, including calls for him to run for president. "It's a circus, you guys are part of the circus," he told reporters. "They'll talk about somebody else next week."

The point, though, is he enters with a lot of expectations.

"My expectations are very straightforward," he said. "I ran because I told people I want to be the U.S. Senator from Florida because I believe this country is headed in the wrong direction. I think both parties are to blame. I want to go to Washington, D.C., stand up to the direction it is taking our country and offer a clear alternative. That's what I ran on, that's what I'm going to be for the next six years."

On the Dream Act

Rubio restated his opposition to the Dream Act until the borders are secured and said he supports rolling back discretionary spending to 2008 and frozen. He said he wants to see a fairer system for prioritizing projects than the "earmark" process that now favors the most influential members of Congress.

Where he fits in

Asked where he sees himself fitting in -- whether with those Republicans who want to fight every Democratic idea and those who desire bipartisanship -- Rubio said: "I think we should only oppose their bad ideas, and they have a lot. That's where I stand on the issues." He said the two parties have different ideas and the past election showed that people across Florida and the country had a very clear mandate "and that mandate is get control of the spending problem, figure out ways for the federal government to help economic development, not hinder it, and make sure that America continues to be the strongest military power in the world."

Rubio, 39, appeared relaxed and joked with reporters. "It's humbling," he said. "I don't feel I won anything other than the opportunity to serve."

On David Rivera

He was asked about the troubles facing his friend, new Rep. David Rivera. "I don't know anything more than what I read in the press accounts and I really don't want to speculate on it. No one wants to read that stuff, but like I said, that will work its way through." He said he still supported Rivera.

On Florida's early presidential primary

Rubio maintained that Florida should keep its early primary.

"It's right for Florida for a lot of reasons. What's the point of Florida voters having a primary later in the year that won't mean anything? ... I think Florida is the ideal test. There isn't an issue confronting America that they won't have to address in a state like Florida. And as a Republican, I think it behooves us to have an early Republican primary in Florida. Because if a Republican can't win Florida, they can't win the presidency. So we better make sure whoever we nominate is someone who can be palatable to Floridians."

On the effort by some Republicans to repeal the 14th Amendment granting citizenship to U.S. born children of illegal immigrants.

"I think that's not really an issue that we need to be confronting. I think the way we deal with immigration is to secure the border and create an electronic verification system. That's really the problems that we're facing."

[Last modified: Thursday, January 6, 2011 5:39pm]


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