April 25th, 2012
04:53 PM ET
8 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.

–Follow Adam Levy on Twitter: @AdamPLevyCNN

"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. scott

    Very good sound advise to all.

    April 25, 2012 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  2. Lump

    Despicable, but hardly any surprise. It's just a continuation of foreign policy as it always has been for us. Reagan? Truman? As long as our role models for foreign policy continue to be perpetrators of atrocities in the name of the national interest (I would use the term war criminals, but everyone knows there has never been and never will be an American war criminal) this country will never be the great nation that most Americans think it already is.

    April 25, 2012 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  3. Conrack

    GOP, please choose this guy as Romney's running mate. Where is his resume? He makes Palin look like a heavyweight.

    April 25, 2012 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  4. tonyl

    Rubio and Romney's world view is limited to their opening overseas bank accounts in other nations of the world to take advantage of loopholes in our tax system to dodge taxes legally. We are at a point in this country where there is widest gap in our history right now between the 1% rich and the 99% rest of our citizens. The 1% richest are richer then ever before while the 99% are the poorer in our recent history. GOP and Romney believes even further lower tax rate for the 1% on the top while burdening the 99% . Even though right now the rich have the lowest rate with Bush tax cut in effect in last 50 years.

    April 25, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  5. DENNA

    This man is hispanic. Have the conservatives suddenly become tolerant? They've been ranting and raving like lunatics for the past three years over President Obama. Now they are so liberal that they will accept a hispanic for VP. Better vet him well – wouldn't want another Palin-like surprise, would we?

    April 25, 2012 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |

    Yes SIR, Perfect GOP/ V.P. Quote "The world is Our Business..." Maybe MITTISE plans on taking it over like all the other
    BUSINESS he has shafted and FIRING all of HUMANITY...LMAO

    April 25, 2012 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  7. arale norimaki

    Why keep trotting out this Marco Rubio character? He has nothing to say and basically no one gives a

    April 25, 2012 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  8. Emigdio Alvarez

    sounds like Rubio is expecting Romney to pick him as his running mate.

    April 25, 2012 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  9. charles

    Rubio couldn't find the last page of his stupid speech. He is not a vice president material. Unprepared for his so called 'gargantuan' speech?

    April 25, 2012 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  10. kim

    You people are pathetic I can not believe all of the hateful things that are said on this blog and if u turn on tv the media is always talking about the Republicans not being civil That is a joke

    April 25, 2012 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  11. Carole Clarke

    He's right – we are the premier nation and everything on this planet is our concern just as their entire world was the concern of Ancient Rome. It would be nice if we behaved with a bit more finesse but politics is usually driven by ulterior motives and operated by scoundrels, then and now.

    April 25, 2012 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  12. pokey

    Rubio should not be the VP.
    He does not qualify according to the Constitution.
    The US should definitely remove themselves from the UN.

    April 25, 2012 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  13. borisjimbo

    Just the kind of small government talk we've come to expect from a GOP True Believer.

    April 26, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  14. Josh

    Yeah no. Some of these people need to take a look at the state of affairs we're in before talking about intervening in even more nations. Trade and energy? That's fine and healthy, but talking about continuing and starting more military operations in places like Syria isn't. For over a decade now we've spent trillions of dollars and lost thousands of soldiers to sandpits that we never should have gone to in the first place. Now where are we at? over 15 trillion in debt with troops stretched all across the globe and politicians are gunning for more? Did they miss the history lessons on Rome? Until our own house is in order we shouldn't be messing with other people's. It makes no sense to deal with another nation's problems while simultaneously ignoring our own.

    April 26, 2012 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  15. arale norimaki

    Rubio Loses The Last Page Of His Foreign Policy Speech

    to Rubio see why teleprompters are a good thing?

    cubans have a special immigration status in the U.S. than any other nationality. So basically Robio, dosen't see the reason to have to stick his neck out for Mexicans, Colombians , Hatians, etc.

    Good luck explaining to the tea party aka the gop the difference between race and an ethnic group.

    GOP is in trouble.....LMFAO

    April 26, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  16. ThinkAgain

    "He [Rubio] did not offer any thoughts on Cuba, the country from which his parents emigrated to America."

    Why not? Is it because addressing Cuba will bring up the nasty reminder that Rubio has fictionalized his parents' story about when and why they came to the US?

    April 26, 2012 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  17. helenecha

    As for U.S.-Russia relationship, helping European allies reduce their coerced dependence on Russian energy is more an action of throwing opportunities away than an action of re-picking up confidence.
    Yes, Rubio made it clear that 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. But if U.S. foreign policy is in favor of acting first and reporting afterward selectively, I don't think Chinese people couldn't understand that it’s an effective impact provided an opportunity for improving U.S.-China relationship.

    April 26, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  18. Richard "BONEHEAD" Cheney

    Rubio, America's leading expert on foreign relations. What a joke! The GOP is trying to position the little twit to be an acceptable VP candidate for what's his name?

    April 26, 2012 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  19. J.V.Hodgson

    I find his comments rehearsed Republican policy/ ideas based on think tanks Republicans fund. There is not one original thought or idea here. = With 1/2 hours research and a PC I could have penned his speech for him.
    But what does come thru is that America knows best. So UN Veto powers need to remain. I say take the veto away from all 5 permanent members and have a democratic vote system and if its war related or regime change a UN 67% majority excluding abstentions of all members and also on the security council. Otherwise on all matters the democratic majority wins, that's democracy on a global scale and China, Russia and US alone cannot interfere with a majority vote, nwither can dictators or economically strong members dictate.
    One speech does not make anyone an international diplomatic expert with respected credentials.
    Typical CNN overblown rhetoric.

    April 26, 2012 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  20. AfisFis

    As history has shown over and over again as soon as the going get's tough (world economic crisis) all the nut jobs come out of the woodwork, and manage to ascend to power. These people are very good at exploiting social unrest, finding scapegoats to put blame on and wage war on, finding good reasons to bind their own society in chains. Rubio 2016 is unfortunately a very real thing these days...

    April 26, 2012 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  21. Slappy

    Interesting how all your opinions change in four short years. In 2007-2008 there was a Freshmen Senator, good-looking, minority, gave a good speech, but didn't really do much in the Senate. You all thought he was qualified.

    April 26, 2012 03:41 am at 3:41 am |
  22. Easyrhino

    "emphasizing the need for American leadership and intervention in areas like Syria, Russia, and Iran"

    This guy is certifiable, please someone give this nut a job rounding up stray dogs and get this whack job out of politics.

    April 26, 2012 04:08 am at 4:08 am |
  23. martin

    Where's his birth certificate? No, the _real_ one.

    April 26, 2012 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  24. SciGuy

    And by "lead" I suppose you mean keeping our military presence in over 100 countries, and killing more and more brown people. God save us from both the socializing dems and the warmonger repubs!

    April 26, 2012 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  25. GI Joe

    What he read from his lined paper was not a foreign policy that he thought up - it was a condensation of seveeral republican administrations that did NOT work well for the U.S.A.

    April 26, 2012 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
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