Sen. Marco Rubio tells Newsmax it is time for Republicans to rally behind Mitt Romney for president because he is all but assured of winning the primary and a floor fight at the convention would be a “path to defeat” for the GOP.
The first-term Florida legislator also says Romney will govern as a conservative president and offer a clear alternative to President Obama’s “record of failure.”
And despite speculation that Rubio will be on the ticket in November, he declares point-blank: “I am not going to be the vice presidential nominee.”
Rubio previously served as speaker of the Florida House and won his Senate seat in 2010 by easily defeating his Democratic opponent and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who ran as an independent. Rubio is a leading figure in the tea party movement, and he announced his endorsement of Romney on Wednesday.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Sen. Rubio was asked if it is time for other Republicans to accept Mitt Romney as the GOP presidential nominee.
“I believe it is,” he says. “I would never ask anyone to get out of a primary. I think Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul have a lot to be proud of in terms of the contributions they’ve made to this movement.
“We’ve had a very spirited primary. The turning point for me was that the candidates in the race, the two other [leading] candidates in the race, have both publicly said that they now admit their only path to victory is a floor fight in Tampa in August, and I think that with so much at stake in this election we can’t afford a floor fight in Tampa."
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“If that’s their path to victory, that’s a path to defeat, and so now is the time to say let’s begin this campaign against the president, because this election is truly consequential beyond any words that I can use to describe it.
“Both Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are both basically saying they can’t win the primary. I do think a floor fight would be catastrophic. There’s no way you can have a floor fight in August and then turn around and win in November.
“I think they have every right to continue to run but I do think the primary is over. The question now is the process by which we’re going to arrive at our nominee. I think Mitt Romney has earned that place where he’s at right now.”
Asked if he would step aside if he were in the same position as Santorum and Gingrich, Rubio responds: “If I were in a position where I knew that the only way for me to win is a way that would ultimately contribute to my party’s loss, I would consider strongly not continuing down that road.”
Rubio elaborated on why he has decided to support Romney: “In addition to the fact that I think any of our candidates would be better than Barack Obama, I think he’s the one who’s going to win the primary. He’s going to be our nominee, and now’s the time to start rallying behind the nominee and beginning the case against the president’s last four years.
“This election has to be as much about the president’s record as anything else. It’s a record of failure. Under Barack Obama every facet of American economic life has gotten worse. Gas prices are up. The deficit is up.
Unemployment is up. The economy is not growing fast enough.
“That’s this president’s record, and the American people have a choice: Do we want four more years of that record or do we want an alternative? And I think Mitt Romney offers a very clear alternative.”
Romney has struggled to win the support of conservatives, in large part because of Romneycare, and some conservatives have accused him of flip-flopping on the issues. But Rubio says he is confident a President Romney would govern as a conservative.
“First of all I think it is where he is as a person and as a candidate,” Rubio explains.
“Second, we’ve had a very spirited primary and one of the advantages of having a primary like the one we’ve had is that Governor Romney and all the candidates have had to take very specific positions on specific issues, for which they will be held accountable throughout the campaign and as they govern as president.
“And third, because I just think he is head and shoulders above what we have right now in the White House. He is certainly more conservative than Barack Obama, which of course is not a very high standard. He will govern as a conservative president, and if we can team that up with a Republican conservative House and a Republican conservative Senate, I think we can finally start to address the major issues our nation is confronting.”
To win over more conservatives, Romney “needs to continue to offer a very clear, compelling, inspirational conservative alternative to the direction Barack Obama wants to take our country,” Rubio adds.
“What is that alternative? It’s a full embrace of the American free enterprise system. It’s a full embrace of the United States being the strongest military and diplomatic power on the planet. It’s a full embrace of the notion that what makes our nation great is not our government, it’s our people, and the job of our government is to make it easier, not harder, for our people to grow America’s economy.”
Rubio discusses why he is not interested in seeking the GOP vice presidential nod: “Because I’m focused 100 percent on my job in the Senate. I ran to be a United States senator not because I was looking for a platform to run for something else. I ran to be in the Senate because I thought that from here I could help take on some of the issues we’re facing, and I’m very happy about what we’ve been able to do our first year. I think we were able to prevent a lot of bad things from happening.
“I’m very proud to serve alongside a team of very conservative senators that have stood the line on things from the debt deal all the way to where we should be in our budget.
“I think moving forward if we have the opportunity to be in the majority, we’re going to have a chance to actually do some of these things, like save Medicare, like have real tax reform, like having energy policy that makes sense for the American people and helps grow our economy.”
Rubio says Romney has not asked if he would join him as a running mate. But Rubio was asked how he would respond if his joining ticket guaranteed the defeat of Obama and he was asked to serve as VP.
“I don’t think that is possible. I don’t think any vice presidential choice guarantees an election result. The race has to be won by the top of the ticket.
“I’ll do anything the nominee asks in order to win, but I don’t think that’s going to be the vice presidential nominee. I don’t think that’s going to be the choice before me, so I’m not going to be the vice presidential nominee.”
Rubio says Republicans don’t need an Hispanic on the ticket to carry the Hispanic vote in November.
“No. What we need to do is continue to be the party that believes in free enterprise, the party that believes in the legal immigration system. We are the pro-legal immigration party.
“Our illegal immigration problem has spiraled out of control. We have as conservatives allowed ourselves to be labeled as anti-immigrant. We are not an anti-immigrant party, we are the pro-legal immigration party.
“Beyond that I would say our economic message is the natural home of Hispanics all across the country. People from Latin America come here to get away from the failed economic government policies of places like Venezuela and Cuba. They come here because big government doesn’t work.”
To garner more Hispanic votes, Rubio says Republicans “need to do a better job of outlining our economic vision for the future, how we believe in individual liberties, in individual empowerment, in an economic system where anyone from anywhere, if you work hard and play by the rules and have good ideas, can accomplish anything.”
Commenting on the challenge to Obamacare before the Supreme Court, Rubio tells Newsmax: “I believe Obamacare is unconstitutional, and I expect the Supreme Court to agree with this. Whether that is what they will ultimately decide is very difficult to predict. As far as the electoral impact of it, I haven’t made that calculation.
“I do believe that Obamacare is very bad public policy on multiple fronts. Some would argue that it’s politically beneficial to let Obamacare stay in place. I would say it’s bad for our country.”
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