Rubio defends Romney over U.S. handling of Chinese dissident, Axelrod fights back
May 6th, 2012
01:46 PM ET
2 years ago

Rubio defends Romney over U.S. handling of Chinese dissident, Axelrod fights back

(CNN) – Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida stood by Mitt Romney in his reaction to the U.S. handling of a Chinese dissident this week, saying the presumptive GOP presidential nominee did not overreact to the situation.

"I think this crisis is a reminder of what we are dealing with in China," Rubio told "Fox News Sunday." "And we hope that there are reformers in that government that are pushing for a more open system."

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

He added: "But what we know for a fact we are dealing with now are people that are paranoid and are control freaks and a totalitarian system."

On Thursday, Romney used harsh words to criticize the administration's involvement with the blind Chinese activist, Chen Guangcheng, who escaped from house arrest to the U.S. Embassy, which he departed last week to return to his family.

Romney said he was disappointed in reports that indicate the administration "probably sped up or may have sped up the process" of Chen's decision to leave the embassy due to impending discussions between China and top U.S. officials.

At a campaign event in Virginia, the candidate cited reports that said "our embassy failed to put in place the kind of verifiable measures that would ensure the safety of Mr. Chen and his family."

Romney continued, "If these reports are true, this is a dark day for freedom and it's a day of shame for the Obama administration."

The administration faced criticism after reaching a deal with Chinese officials in which Chen departed the embassy on the condition the government would assure his "safety." Soon after he left, Chen questioned the legitimacy of the deal and requested U.S. help in leaving the country with his family.

Rubio, speculated to be a top candidate to serve as Romney's running mate, added his voice Sunday to that criticism, accusing the president of repeatedly failing in situations involving human rights. He pointed to the Iranian uprising of 2009, an event in which the Obama administration largely refrained from involvement.

"And we see that again here now, in China, where somehow this administration looked almost reluctant to forcefully assert the United States' defense of human rights and the principles of human rights," Rubio said.

David Axelrod, senior adviser to Obama's re-election campaign, said Sunday that Romney's response was "shameful" and argued the candidate was "craven to score political points" with his message, which Axelrod said was based on "half information at the time."

"We want to help Mr. Chen achieve his goal, which is to come here, and we want to do it in accordance with our values, and we want to be successful in doing that. And we're making some progress in that regard," Axelrod told ABC's "This Week." "But it doesn't help to have candidates blunderbussing around, trying to score political points, when we're in the middle of that process."

In comments Thursday at the high-level talks in China, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made no mention of Chen while saying the topic of human rights had been part of the discussion.

A senior State Department official said Thursday the United States will do what it can to help Chen and his family leave China if they want to, but added that Washington doesn't have "a magic wand" to get him out of the country.

At the White House, Press Secretary Jay Carney referred questions about the situation in China to the State Department. Carney repeated assertions previously released by State Department officials that Chen never asked for asylum while in the U.S. Embassy and was never pressured to leave.

– CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 VP Pick • China • David Axelrod • Marco Rubio • Mitt Romney
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    I refuse to read this entire story because it comes from a Republican's brain. However, the Republicans started this whole "Let's be friends with China" Thing starting with Nixon. The Chinese are still a Communist nation ruled by the Politburo of 10 men who execute people who speak their minds. Thanks to GOP policies America ships zillions of job overseas to China, including Romney, while Americans are becoming beggars for table scraps. Meanwhile, America is deeply in debt to China, which actually makes a second rate nation.

    The bottom line is the Republicans screw everything up so Mario Rubio Brothers need to shut up.

    May 6, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Oh yeah Rubio, what about Cuba. This idiot didn't know or either he lied about the history of his own parents leaving Cuba and now he thinks he's qualified to speak on China, give me a break.

    May 6, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  3. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    I refuse to read this entire story because it comes from a Republican's brain. However, the Republicans started this whole "Let's be friends with China" thing starting with Nixon. The Chinese are still a Communist nation ruled by the Politburo of 10 men who e-x-e-c-u-t-e people who speak their minds. Thanks to GOP policies America ships zillions of jobs overseas to China, including Romney, while Americans are becoming beggars for table scraps. Meanwhile, America is deeply in debt to China, which actually makes us a second rate nation. The Mario Willard Rubio Brothers need to shut up.

    Romney is trying to get the Latino vote by bringing Cuban Rubio on board. Everything Willard does is a ruse including trying to blend in with evangelicals. Willard, you are not wanted or needed on earth. Joseph Smith is your mother.

    May 6, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
1 2