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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio questions climate change, talks football, gay rights, Tupac



WASHINGTON - It was billed as BuzzFeed Brews with Sen. Marco Rubio, but the beer glass next to the Florida Republican went untouched. It was an expansive discussion nonetheless, with Rubio questioning government's ability to tackle climate change, signaling opposition to including gay couples in an immigration bill and saying he is OK with women serving in combat.

Do you see global warming as a threat to Florida, BuzzFeed's Ben Smith asked at one point.

"First of all, the climate is always changing. That's not the fundamental question," Rubio replied. "The fundamental question is whether man-made activity is what's contributing most to it. I understand that people say there is a significant scientific consensus on that issue, but I've actually seen reasonable debate on that principle."

He went on: "The secondary question is, is there anything government can do about that, that will actually make a difference? We can pass a law that prohibits X. It has this dollar impact on our economy, which is devastating, but what is the benefit of it? Will it have a direct impact on actually turning around these climate changes we're trying to address?"

Rubio said the U.S. couldn't try to tackle the issue alone. "The United States is a country; it's not a planet."

On gay rights, Rubio maintained his position that marriage should be between a man and woman but said it should be up to states to decide. "I've always been uncomfortable with a federal constitutional amendment."

He said he thought including gay couples in an immigration bill, as Democrats want, would prove distracting. As for the overall immigration debate, Rubio said despite early optimism, "reality has begun to set in as to how difficult it's going to be to accomplish this ... we have a lot, a lot of work to do."

Rubio was one of eight senators this week to vote against moving forward on the Violence Against Women Act, drawing criticism. But Rubio said he opposed the way the bill would dictate spending in states and suggested amendments could clear that up.

"Who's for violence against women?" 

The interview began with Smith asking Rubio about his musical taste (early this morning Rubio's office released a Spotify playlist) and Rubio discussed the finer points of Tupac and why Pitbull makes "party music." But Rubio drew a blank when asked to name an up-and-coming artist, laughing it off that he doesn't have time to read Vibe.

Rubio said he doesn't think Congress should get involved in the ongoing discussion about football and concussions.

[Last modified: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 12:05am]


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