Rubio defends Romney over U.S. handling of Chinese dissident, Axelrod fights back
May 6th, 2012
01:46 PM ET
10 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."

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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. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Next to Governor Rick Scott, Rubio is the second biggest embarrassment to Florida. Canadians have done more for Florida's economy than elected republicans.

    May 6, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Mittens has been showing time and again that he is unqualified in foreign policy. If Mittens could stop flapping his flip flopping jaws, America would be better off. Rekindling the cold war with Russia, starting a brand new war with Iran, and creating a tense situation with China is not very smart. He may be rich, but he is an idiot.

    May 6, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  3. maf

    Romney and Rubio – conjecture and speculation!!! Just plain DANGEROUS!!!
    Cooler heads will prevail in this situation handled by THE PRESIDENT!!
    GOP, no idea about the economy, no idea about foreign policy!

    May 6, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  4. Jeetu

    So, Mr. Rubio, you can pass judgement about the issues that you do not have knowledge about or did not collect the facts. You were not part of the process to negotiate in Beijing and hence have no idea what Mr. Chen wanted or said. Besides, it is always much easier to crticize than to do something in the first place. Your Presidential nominee, Governor Romney is no better. In fact, most of you in the republican party have no idea of the need to help the middle and the poor class in USA. You have no idea about the cultures of the world and how to deal with them. You just want to impose your will on others in the world and then say that you believe in democracy, which I am not sure the republicans believe in any way.

    No, we do not want to vote for the republicans for the House or the Senate and not for Romney, Rubio or anyone else in the republican party for the WH.

    May 6, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. What? We don't have to kill them?

    Mitt sounds like he would like to put boots on the ground everytime there is a crisis.... How dare Obama negotiate and work out a deal that helps attain a goal without having our troops killed in the process... how dare he look after his soldiers.

    May 6, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  6. manhandler1

    And Rubio gets his Foreign Policy credentials from where? And Romney gets HIS foreign policy credentials from where? It's like me getting up there and all the sudden declaring myself an expert because I just decided to. This guys a joke...just like Romney and his "Russia is our single greatest geopolitical foe" declaration.......based on absolutely nothing.

    May 6, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  7. mario

    same gop BS

    May 6, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    "I think this crisis is a reminder of what we are dealing with in China"
    Exactly, which is why Romney needs to use some restraint in his criticism during a "crisis", and at least pretend
    to understand and adhere to the "water's edge" idea. He has shown, once again, that he has no idea of the harm his words could do during a negotiation situation. Proof that he puts himself first, as do all Republicans lately, and
    America second.

    May 6, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  9. Brad

    Rubio is a Wanna-Be politician, "With diapers on??? This guy (or kid) is a perfect example of a "Rightwing Extremist on steroids!!!!! America will be in true "Danger" with this Financial Job Killer! Obama 2012

    May 6, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  10. lyn

    They all have the answers now, but where were the answers when they were in power with GWB/Cheney? Didn't have any then, nor would they now. No ideas to help the country, just want the power back.

    May 6, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  11. Thomas

    Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte / Republican Sen. Marco Rubio

    Let Mitt Romney defend himself !

    Mitt ,Five sons , all avoided military service !

    May 6, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  12. Irma in North Carolina

    We all know that the people commenting on fox news is just a bunch of lies that is the only way you can be on fox is to bash the president.

    May 6, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  13. ted

    My next door neighbor is a chinese immigrant to this country so I asked him yesterday, what is this whole deal about this dissident guy? He said he has followed it and he himself does not understand the whole thing, but he also said that you can never know what an authoritarian government is really up to. So if a Chinese native doesn't get it, how can any of us really understand? Quite frankly, whatever it is has had to beeen blown way out of proportion. And in reality, just with gasoline prices, Obama has nothing to do with it . I think the republicans need to find real issues to deal with. Hey, how about those job creators who got their tax cuts so they can create jobs? Not happening you hypocrites.

    May 6, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  14. Cc

    Yawn. There are millions of people in trouble world over and politicians are fighting over one guy? Are there any larger issues? Jobs, climate change, security, obesity, education ...

    May 6, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  15. Another Day in the RW Idiot Mines

    Wow, exaggerate much, Rubio? In what way, shape or form is the Chen situation anywhere remotely close to being a "crisis"? You're nothing but anther lying GOBP cultist trying to sell fear, hate and ignorance with your lies.

    May 6, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  16. jameskatt

    Shame on Romney. He is such a turn-coat. He is such a liar. His response is expected from a let-them-eat-cake, Caymen-Island-and-Swiss-Bank-Account, rich man who is NON-CHRISTIAN.

    May 6, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  17. Blualliance

    Romney is reckless and irresponsible discussing this highly explosive issue while American officials are trying to negotiate a peaceful solution to the situation. Anyone this reactive, as commander in chief, would endanger Americans in all parts of the world. Wake up America before it is too late. Don't buy the propaganda that the right wing is saturating the airwaves with! If they were to gain control of this country we will be at war within a month (with Iran) at the expense of our young military men and their families. Please wake up and take notice now! Republicans are desperate for power and don't care about the fate of mankind.

    May 6, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  18. Jules

    Time will tell who was right, but my money in on our president. He has a way of working a lot of these things out while Romney and his lapdogs just run their mouths. Yip, yip, yip.

    May 6, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  19. Gary Owen 2/7

    The Red Neck Right flaying around trying to find something to hurt Obama with. The plain truth is that Obama has done a masterfull job of saving the economy and destroying Al queda. While the only thing the Red Neck Right has done lately is be asleep at the wheel on 9/11 and destroy the economy.

    May 6, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  20. Donkey Party

    What a Romney lapdog Rubio has become. He should change his name to Seamus.

    May 6, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  21. vic , nashville ,tn

    "I think this crisis is a reminder of what we are dealing with in China," Rubio

    Millions are seeking asylum in US, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand , Romney and Rubio doesn’t have any clue and are they going to accept all the application?

    May 6, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  22. Whoosh

    Romney doesn't have a clue about foriegn policy and dealing with humans. Yet he has the audacity to question the President. Give me a freaking break!!!!

    May 6, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  23. king

    What with these cold war thinking repubs lunatics. These folks thinks that the president can go into a country like China and demand what he wants from the government. Where are these people mentality went. How can you criticise this president in a critical sensitive situation such as this activist dissident. When will these repubs wake up to know that this president represent our country and its people, and not just the loose yahoos running around embarrassing us all, because of politics.

    May 6, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  24. Larry L

    Romney and Rubio need to avoid foreign policy – neither is any brighter than Sarah Palin and Romney doesn't want people asking about jobs sent to China, Russia as our #1 threat, and his money in offshore banks. They need to stick to the evils of contraception and sound bites from Fox News – their "platform".

    May 6, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  25. BeverlyNC

    There is no defense of Romney on any foreign policy issue. He has no foreign policy experience or understanding, He didn't even know the Soviet Union dissolved decades ago and that Czechoslovokia has not existed since 1993. Republicans only see foreign policy as a war game. Romney is dangerous for America for our national security and relationships with our Allies and with rogue nations President Obama is managing perfectly. Sec, Clinton has been incredible and she will handle the Chinese situation with her usual brilliance. The last thing we need is a clueless Romney anywhere near foreign policy. Scary.

    May 6, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
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