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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Marco Rubio still mulling vote on Tillerson confirmation

16

January

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said Monday he has yet to decide whether to vote to confirm former Exxon Mobil chief Rex Tillerson as President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state.

The Florida Republican said he’s awaiting responses to written questions to Tillerson following last week’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

“We’re going to go through the transcripts of the hearing, which I’ve begun to do,” Rubio told reporters in Miami. “We need to have a foreign policy that while always acting in the national interest of the United States is always rooted in our values as a nation.”

Rubio was the toughest Republican to question Tillerson on Trump’s foreign policy, which is unspecific and often at odds with Rubio’s hawkish views.

Over the weekend, Trump told the German newspaper Bild that NATO is “obsolete," though he added that the alliance is still "very important to him."

“NATO is not obsolete,” Rubio said Monday. “It most certainly needs to be reinvigorated, given the new challenges of the 21st century.”

“Mr. Tillerson said, by the way, that he does believe in NATO’s importance,” Rubio added.

The senator was scheduled to speak at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast for the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, a mentoring and scholarship program for African-American boys. The morning’s keynote speaker will be U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who got into a feud with Trump after questioning the legitimacy of his election Friday and saying he won’t attend Trump’s inauguration. On Saturday, Trump blasted Lewis, a civil rights icon, on Twitter, prompted immediate public backlash.

“I have tremendous admiration for Congressman Lewis, not only for what he’s done but what he stands for,” Rubio said. “I don’t agree with him that President-elect Trump is illegitimate. I also don’t agree with his decision not to attend the inaugural, though it certainly is his right. It’s not about President-elect Trump – it’s a peaceful transfer of power.”

Regarding Trump’s Twitter response, however, Rubio added: “I also would have hoped that the president-elect would have responded differently.”

[Last modified: Monday, January 16, 2017 11:00am]

    

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