Florida Sen. Marco Rubio understands running for president will bring “a whole new level of scrutiny and attention,” but tells The Daily Caller he is “very comfortable with who and where I come from.”
In an interview about his new book set for release Tuesday, Rubio acknowledged that he is still deciding whether to run for the White House in 2016 or for re-election the U.S. Senate in Florida.
Asked what a presidential vetting would reveal about him that the public doesn’t already know, Rubio said much of his background has already been examined over the last several years—he referenced his autobiography in 2012, another book written about him that year, speculation he would be Mitt Romney’s vice presidential nominee and his 2010 Senate campaign.
“I think in many respects, a lot of those things have been looked at and talked about for quite sometime,” Rubio said. “But I’m very comfortable with who and where I come from and how that has translated to my positions on public policy.”
Rubio’s new book, “American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity For Everyone,” is an uplifting compilation of Rubio’s policy ideas “told through the stories of real people in their real lives,” Rubio explained.
“The message is that the American Dream–which is embodied in the ability of hard-working people to make it to the middle class and leave their children better off than themselves–is in a lot of trouble right now,” Rubio said. “It’s in a lot of trouble because people’s wages aren’t keeping pace with the cost of living. And that’s happening, not because of a cyclical downturn in our economy, but because of structural changes to our economy, and government policies that are counter productive or basically irrelevant to the challenges of our time.”
As he mulls a bid for president, Rubio still faces skepticism from some conservatives over his views on immigration. Asked if he regrets being part of the Gang of 8 — a bi-partisan group of senators that authored a comprehensive immigration reform bill that called for a pathway to citizenship in 2013 — Rubio said, “No.”
“Primarily because I think you learn lessons from it that are going to ultimately help us solve the problem one day,” the senator said. “And the primary lesson is the level of mistrust that people have that the government will ever enforce immigration law. And a central argument against the bill that we proposed was not that we shouldn’t do anything with the people who are here illegally. The central argument was we shouldn’t do anything with the people here illegally until first the government proves that they’re going to bring illegal immigration under control.”
“The only way you’re ever going to deal with the rest of immigration is to first bring illegal immigration under control,” Rubio said Monday. “And that’s why I argue for the sequential approach to it.”
Rubio wouldn’t say, when asked, what percentage of a chance he thinks there is that he will run for president in 2016. “I’m not sure there is such a thing, that there is a percentage one way or another.”’
He said the question he has to answer is whether the U.S. Senate or the White House is the best place for him to further his policy goals.
“And that’s the last remaining question for me to answer,” Rubio said of his thought process of running for president.
Asked about Romney acknowledging to donors last week that he will consider another run for president, Rubio said: “I think he certainly deserves the opportunity to consider running, and if he decides to run, he’ll be a very formidable candidate. He’s run twice before, and has the experience of running.”
Rubio and Rand Paul, the libertarian-leaning senator from Kentucky, have clashed in recent weeks over foreign policy, specifically over the Obama administration’s stance on Cuba. Asked about Paul’s call for a restrained foreign policy, Rubio argued for a much stronger American hand in the world.
“I think now more now than ever, the Republican Party and the American people want our next president to be someone who understands the unique and important role America has to play in the global order,” Rubio said. “I mean, without American leadership and American engagement, international affairs devolve into chaos.”
Asked to describe why he thinks he could beat Hillary Clinton in a general election, Rubio said, “So far, Hillary Clinton looks like something that’s no better than the continuation of the Obama presidency,” supporting programs and policies that have lost their effectiveness.
“I think we can make a very compelling argument to why our agenda is the right one for the future,” Rubio said. “Because it’s focused on the future. And focused on the reality of a new era.”