Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said that his approach on the issue of human rights was different than that of the White House during an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday.
“The White House and I have a different approach on the issue of human rights,” Rubio told host Jake Tapper. “I’m much more forceful and open and vocal about criticizing whether it’s Egypt or Saudi Arabia for its human rights record.”
Rubio was responding to a question from Tapper regarding President Donald Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia. During his remarks, Trump told attendees that he was not there to lecture or tell other people how to live. Tapper asked the senator if the White House was abdicating the public role of the U.S. in defending human rights.
“I think it’s in our national security interest to advocate for democracy and freedom and human rights now, with a recognition that you may not get it overnight,” Rubio explained.
He defended the president for discussing gradual improvements in places over time, calling that portion of the president’s speech wise and pragmatic.
Trump delivered the speech to leaders in Saudi Arabia Sunday and urged the Muslim world to help in the fight against terror.
“We are not here to lecture. We are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership based on shared interests and values to pursue a better future for us all,” Trump said.
Rubio said he would not have used those words if he had been the one giving the speech, and Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain echoed that sentiment on Fox News Sunday.
“We have to stand up for what we believe in, or we’re no different,” McCain told host Chris Wallace.
Some politicians and media figures have criticized the president for failing to acknowledge Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. The president leaves Saudi Arabia for Tel Aviv, Israel Monday.
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