April 25th, 2012
04:53 PM ET
6 years ago

Rubio's foreign policy more VP than tea party

Washington (CNN) – Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida boosted his vice presidential buzz Wednesday as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney, giving what his office billed as a "major foreign policy speech."

The freshman senator, who ran as a tea party favorite in 2010, voiced an "internationalist" perspective on major global issues, emphasizing the need for American leadership and intervention in areas like Syria, Russia, and Iran at the Brookings Institution, a prominent international think tank based in Washington.

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"What happens all over the world is our business. Every aspect of lives is directly impacted by global events," he said. "It's impossible for us to focus only on our issues here at home."

Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democrat-turned-independent senator from Connecticut, introduced Rubio, giving him a platform to speak about the effectiveness of American strength around the world. Lieberman noted Rubio's bipartisanship on these issues, putting him in the "tradition that links together our greatest Republican presidents like Ronald Reagan and our greatest Democratic presidents like Harry S. Truman."

Notably, Rubio did not use the widely covered speech as an opportunity to harshly attack the Obama administration. Instead he offered areas of disagreement with both the president, like on Russia, and members of his own party that argue for a more isolationist policy.

"I feel like we have gotten precious little from Russia in exchange for concessions on nuclear weapons," he said about the Obama administration's "reset" with the country, a critique Romney often emphasizes on the campaign trail.

Though Rubio disputes the policy, his view on how to mend the U.S.-Russia relationship showed his fervent belief in U.S. global leadership.

"We need to re-energize and lead a united coalition with European nations to tackle issues ranging from missile defense to the continued enlargement of NATO," Rubio said. "Furthermore, if we are successful in forming a Western Hemisphere energy coalition that takes advantage of the shale-gas revolution, we will be able to help our European allies reduce their coerced dependence on Russian energy as well."

On China, Rubio agreed with Romney's criticism of the country's handling on many issues, but his thoughts on resolving them did not mirror the candidate's promise to label the country as a currency manipulator on day one of his administration.

"The United States, Europe and East Asia represent 71% of the world's economy," he said. "That's a lot of leverage, and we should use it to address problems such as China's disregard for intellectual property rights, gross human rights violations, its unfair trading practices, its currency manipulation, and the looming presence of China's state-owned industries."

On one of the biggest tea party issues – the United Nations – Rubio offered his frustrations with logjams there but still insisted on the importance of such institutions. Many Republicans, tea party and not, have introduced bills to stop U.S. payments to the U.N. because of these problems, something he did not mention.

"When American influence is diminished, for example, by the one-nation one-vote formula of the U.N. General Assembly or the U.N. Human Rights Council, we see absurd and often appalling results," he said, evoking Republican irritation. But he also mentioned that "multi-lateral international organizations can be a forum for forming international coalitions."

When it comes to Iran, Rubio was most in line with the president, endorsing negotiations while leaving open the possibility of military strikes on the country.

"The prospect of a nuclear capable Iran is so unacceptable that we must be prepared to act," he said. "We should be open to negotiations with Iran. But always remember that they should not be deemed a success when they only lead to further negotiations."

Showing off his understanding of complex foreign issues, Rubio insisted on the need to help the Syrian opposition against President Bashar al-Assad's government as a way of weakening Iran.

"The fall of Assad would be a significant blow to Iran's ambitions," Rubio said. "On those grounds alone, we should be seeking to help the people of Syria bring him down."

Rubio also spoke about engaging with democratic countries in South America, which have been stronger and more economically prosperous, as a way to overcome regional challenges like Venezuela. He did not offer any thoughts on Cuba, the country from which his parents emigrated to America.

Rubio concluded his speech by quoting former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's 2003 address to Congress about America's essential role around the world. The Florida senator added his own views on U.S. leadership, sounding like a statesman waiting to gain residence to the Naval Observatory.

"Above all else, the 21st century provides us the opportunity for more freedom," Rubio said. "A world where more people are free. Free to grow their economies. Free to pursue their dreams. Free to become prosperous. This is the promise of this century. But it will not happen if we are not engaged. It will not happen if we do not lead."

Filed under: Foreign Policy • Marco Rubio
soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "Rubio received a soaring introduction from Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who called him a "rising star in the next generation of America's foreign policy leaders" and praised him as "principled, patriotic and practical."

    Lieberman wouldn't know principles if they came at him wielding a 3 foot mohel.

    April 25, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  2. The Real Truth and Nothing But the Real Truth

    Sniffit - Lieberman wouldn't know principles if they came at him wielding a 3 foot mohel.
    What doi you expect from a life long Democrat that was stabbed in the back by his far left "progressive"/communist Democrat party?

    April 25, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  3. Eli

    he was nearly john mccain's vp. a bat, not a mouse and not a bird.

    April 25, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    Rather incredible that an Obamabot would ask this!!!! By Obama's standards, he should be ruinning for Presdient already. Except Rubio hasn't voted "present" all of his political career like Obama,

    My point was, if the Republican party is trying to compare Obama and Rubio, Rubio WILL come out on the losing end. Isn't it hypocritical for you to have stood in judgment of Obama the past 3 three years for the same observation I make about Rubio? Obama's lack of experience DID concern me, Truth. John McCain himself pushed me over to Obama. I suspect the same reversal will occur IF Romney picks Rubio.

    April 25, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  5. Curt

    What a joke American politics is becoming. First we have John McCain who chooses Sarah Palin to be his running mate, then we have all the Republican primaries for the last 6 months with none of them suitable to be President and now we have a guy who's been a senator for a year who is now an expert on foreign policy. The expression " God bless the United States of America" is needed now more than ever.

    April 25, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  6. Can the country withstand another 4 years of record unemployment, record deficits, record debt and skyrocketing food & fuel prices?

    rubio couldn't be any worse than obama. at least he loves this country and doesn't want to destroy it.

    April 25, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  7. fayse

    Did Rubio sign the pledge of no taxes for Grover Norquist? I personally would never vote for anyone who did.

    April 25, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  8. Data Driven

    Careful, Rubio - you're making Robert Kaplan, Max Boot, Joe Lieberman, Victor Davis Hanson, and the rest of the Neo-Con Brigade very, very hot. Watch your back and don't drop the soap.

    April 25, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  9. WiredweirdinSF

    Rubio will make a great VP and President. I see where that incompetent, inept, corrupt union toad is still spreading his hate and lies about the Republicans in his "official" vacations across the country. Those that can do something will, those that don't have a clue, spread the hatred. Very typical democrat liberal strategy.

    April 25, 2012 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  10. PJ/TX

    Truth asks: "Does Obama realize that he is President of the USA...."?
    Yes, he does, and he proves it everyday. Most people who love America, also know who our President is, and
    we like him, trust him, and give him the respect that all Presidents of the United States deserve.
    Then there are those who respect nothing. They are the pitiful ones.

    April 25, 2012 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  11. NOvember 2012

    Rubio...is actually more qualified for the presidency than obama is...check his bio out. Now this doesn't even consider that obama is disqualified because of his birth outside the US...and is guilty of fraud for lying about it and forgery too. The Arizona sheriff will release an up date on the birth cert forgery in a couple of days.

    April 25, 2012 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  12. once upon a horse

    @ Rickster...

    why is it that many rightwingers such as yourself that dissagree with the president always have to resort to name calling?

    April 25, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  13. macrasta

    Lieberman.. has amnesia... President Obama when he came into office had the power to strip him of all his congressional duties... but he didn't.. the Pres have him another chance.........but this turn coat... has lost his integrity

    April 25, 2012 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  14. Lynda/Minnesota

    Woman In California

    As an answer to your question Lynda/Minnesota – Rubio took an on-line foreign policy course. In just three SHORT months, he became an overnight "foreign policy expert." He sure is a smart guy. Look for Willard to take one too.

    Thanks for the good laugh! Not sure if this is going to get past the cut-off time, but I probably should have worded my orignial comment better. Rubio, when all is said and done, will end up being another Sarah Palin should Romney chose to make him his VP. I gather his own baggage of manufactured garbage is equal to what hers ended up being for John McCain. When will the TeaPers ever learn?

    April 25, 2012 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  15. Debbie

    Rubio would not be a Presidential vote for me so I would not vote for him to be a Romney running mate. For Romney to get my vote he needs to pick a moderate and someone with more experience and much less TEA to get my vote.

    April 25, 2012 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  16. Discernment


    Not quite a year as Senator and now Rubio wants to be a single-heartbeat from 'Commander-in-Chief'. What about that experience Romney has been talking about? I guess 'Etch-in-Sketch' has changed his mind and experience was never that important.

    April 25, 2012 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  17. gg

    seeing corp,s are people maybe he should pick, wal-mart,exxon,bain for VP

    April 25, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  18. Time for another change


    "Rubio received a soaring introduction from Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who called him a "rising star in the next generation of America's foreign policy leaders" and praised him as "principled, patriotic and practical."

    Lieberman wouldn't know principles if they came at him wielding a 3 foot mohel."

    says the ultra liberal wack-job... yeah, you're a valid source of info, ROFL!

    April 25, 2012 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  19. Ed FL

    Hey Rubio you wanted national attendance and you now have it. All you Miami goings on is/will be forthcoming and NO candidate will want your baggage strapped to their campaign. This is only the beginning your name and family have lots to explain and candidates for national office are front and center.

    April 25, 2012 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  20. CAL USA

    So the fiscal conservative is all in favor of continuing to pour money into a missile defense for Europe that they don't want and that they should pay for if they do. He is also willing to consider every conceivable option to prevent Iran from acquiring nukes. [Would that include using our nukes against them?] Tell me again how this differs from the policies that Bush/Cheney enacted and got us into the present situation.

    April 25, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  21. GetReal

    President Obama is achieving amazing things on the world's stage, which the GOP can't even imagine. He is our leader and his administration already has a Secretary of State. It's bad enough that the GOP is undermining his domestic policies, but they have no right to undermine his foreign policies. They are out of their league and speaking beyond their job discriptions.

    April 25, 2012 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  22. gg

    what's wrong with those people, they cry loud just to get elected then ignor what the people elected them to do.

    April 25, 2012 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  23. Dennis

    I think Rubio could go a long way in his career. He already has more political experience than Obama.

    April 25, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  24. Gfoos

    Marco Rubio is a self-centered opportunist whose morals are as questionable as his judgement. Fact check him.

    April 25, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  25. helenecha

    Meat always sticks to bone but never gets rid of nerve.

    April 25, 2012 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
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