Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) addresses the American Conservative Union's 42nd Annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., Feb. 27, 2015.
Photo by Pete Marovich/EPA

Marco Rubio: Obama was a ‘backbencher’ in Illinois legislature

Msnbc’s Kasie Hunt spoke to 2016 candidate Sen. Marco Rubio before he departing to Washington for a Congressional hearing on Iran. The full transcript of their interview is below.

KASIE HUNT: All right, Senator, thank you for taking the time to do this with us.  I appreciate it.  Why would you be a better president than Jeb Bush?

MARCO RUBIO: Well, first of all, there’s other candidates in this race and I think voters are gonna have a chance to compare all of us.  I’ll just tell people what I’m for and what I wanna do.  I honestly believe the country is at a generational moment where it needs to decide what kind of country does it wanna be in the 21st century?

And I feel like I have a clear vision for what I want this country to be in this new century which is exceptional, to take full advantage of all the opportunities of the new economy.  And I also want it to continue to be the strongest force for good on the planet.  And so–

KASIE HUNT: Do you think– do you think that Jeb Bush also represents that older generation that you referenced in your speech yesterday.

MARCO RUBIO: Well, ultimately I think candidates are judged on their ideas, not by their biological age.  And so–

KASIE HUNT: But you’re running on your bi– biography.

MARCO RUBIO: Well, I want people to know who I am and where I come from, because it influences how I feel about positions.  When I talk about people out there that are struggling to pay their bills and are living paycheck to paycheck, these are the people that raised me, these are the people that I still live around.

These are family members and friends of ours.  These are the people my kids go to school with.  I think that’s important.  But ultimately I hope the Republican party will have multiple candidates that are campaigning on the future and then voters will decide on the Republican side who they want our nominee to be.

KASIE HUNT: In 2008, the Republican National Committee ran an ad that called Barack Obama untested, and it said, “We choose presidents to lead us through uncertain times, rely on their background and experience to judge us.”  Why does that ad not apply to you?

MARCO RUBIO: Well, there’s some significant differences between what I’ve done up to this point in my life and what Barack Obama did.  First of all, we both served in the state legislature.  He as a backbencher in the minority, I as speaker of the house in the 3rd largest state in the country.

I’ll have served a full term in the senate before I become President of the United States.  During that time, I’ve been engaged and have publicly shown my judgment on issue after issue whether it was what we should’ve done in Syria in 2011, what we did in Libya in 2011 and what we should be doing now.

So there’s some– significant differences between his biography and mine in terms of what we’ve done up to this point.  In fact– you know, if you look at the amount of governmental experience that I’ve had, I– I would be the only person running on the Republican side that has state and local s– local, state and federal governmental experience.

KASIE HUNT: So you think you’re more experienced than Barack Obama was in 2008.

MARCO RUBIO: Well, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that in terms of the years, but also what we did.  I mean, he was – as I said, he was a backbencher in the Illinois legislature.  I was the speaker of the Florida House, the majority leader, the majority whip.  I’ve been in the senate now for four and a half years.  I’ll have been in the senate for six years, while I’ve spent a significant amount of time every day working on intelligence issues and also on foreign relations.

KASIE HUNT: Okay.  Let’s walk a little bit.  I wanna ask you about– you did your speech yesterday.  Lots about generational change.  One issue that’s really changed over the course of the last generation is opinions on same-sex marriage.  Seventy-four percent of young Americans show in the NBC poll that they back same-sex marriage.  Why– are you out of step with younger generations on that issue?

MARCO RUBIO: No – well, ultimately the decision on how we define marriage has always belonged to the states.  And if in fact, as the polls indicate, a growing number of Americans believe that sex– marriage between two individuals of the same sex should be – legal, then they can petition their state legislatures and change their state laws.

And in fact, I suspect you’ll see that happen.  It’s already begun to happen.  So at the end of the day, I always believed marriage is regulated by states.  I’ve never supported a federal constitutional amendment on– on marriage.  But– so, that’s why we live in a republic.

KASIE HUNT: Okay.  I also wanna ask you about immigration.  Would you reverse the President’s executive order that allows some young people to stay here in this country?

MARCO RUBIO: We’ll, that’ll eventually– I– I– I wouldn’t say that we would immediately reverse that one.  I’ve always distinguished that one from the first one, but I’ve always said that eventually that will not be the permanent policy of the United States.  It will have to come to an end at some point, and I hope it comes to an end because we’ve reformed our immigration laws.

We’ve en– we’ve– improved the way we– enforce our immigration laws so that future illegal immigration is under control and third, we’ve been able to accommodate those people that have been in this country for a long period of time, especially the young people.  So at some point DACA is gonna have to end.  There’s no doubt about it.  The one he took–

KASIE HUNT: But you wouldn’t repeal it right away.

MARCO RUBIO: No, I’ve said that before, abso– I mean, I wouldn’t– and the reason why is it would be very disruptive.  You now have people that are working.  They’re in school.  They’re employees.  And suddenly overnight they’d be– illegally in the country.  But ultimately there will come a point where it will have to end, maybe not in six months but at some point it will have to end.

And that’s why there should be urgency about moving forward on immigration reform, beginning with immigration enforcement.  If we can prove to the American people that future illegal immigration is under control, I believe we can move quickly thereafter to modernize our legal immigration system and then deal with the fact that we have 12 million people in this country who have been here for longer than a decade who are here illegally.

KASIE HUNT: I read in the Washington Post that your staff in 2010 was very impressed that you could spit rap lyrics.  (LAUGHTER) I was hoping that we could get a demonstration.

MARCO RUBIO: No, we’re not.  No, we’re not.  Because the ones that I know from the ’90s are not – they all – they’d all be censored, anyway.  So– (LAUGHTER) you know what?  It’s funny you ask me that.  There are a couple modern artists that I really like – but– I like Nicki Minaj.  (NOISE) I think she’s very talented.  And Pit Bull’s become a friend and someone from Miami that we’re very proud of.  But more and more–

KASIE HUNT: Is he gonna come to your announcement?

MARCO RUBIO: Yeah, he’s in China, I think.  So he– it’s a long trip.  But– but here’s my– he’s Mr. Worldwide.  (LAUGH) But– but here’s the thing I would say to you about that, is– there’s this channel on XM Radio called– it– it’s called– I think it’s called– Backspin.  And it plays all of the ’90s and ’80s stuff, especially the ’90s.  That’s my era, so that’s what I listen to.  But it’s all s– Snoop Dogg stuff I can’t repeat and I don’t let my kids listen to.

KASIE HUNT: You don’t let your kids listen to it?

MARCO RUBIO: I don’t, no.

KASIE HUNT: All right.

MARCO RUBIO: The ’80s stuff is still safe.  The ’90s stuff was a tough time.

KASIE HUNT: I have to say I was a little more alt-rock, late ’90s, less Snoop Dogg.  I’m not as cool as you are.

MARCO RUBIO: Well, nine– so that was– what was that?

KASIE HUNT: Goo-goo Dolls, Green Day, Nirvana–

MARCO RUBIO: Oh, Green Day.  Yeah– no, electronic music is fun to listen to.  I listened to a little bit of that.  We played a song last night (UNINTEL).

KASIE HUNT: One last question before I let you go.  Your personal finances are gonna come under considerable scrutiny in this presidential race.  Are you prepared for that?

MARCO RUBIO: Yeah, they have been before.  I mean, we’ve been covered extensively now for five years, I mean vetted for vice president, had a book written about me by someone else.  They are–

KASIE HUNT: With all due respect, it’s not the same as a vet–

MARCO RUBIO: No, but– but there’s not–

KASIE HUNT: –for a presidential campaign.

MARCO RUBIO: –much to– I mean, I’m 44 – I’ll be 44 years old next month.  I mean, I’m not a rich person, never claimed to be.  I’m – you know, I’m not a poor person, either, (UNINTEL) comparison to others.  But I’m – I’m not wealthy, and– and that’s okay.  But–

KASIE HUNT: And you don’t have any concerns about past financial dealings that might be brought up in this campaign.

MARCO RUBIO: Well, I don’t know about – I have no past financial dealings.  I mean, by and large I’ve been a W-2 employee.  I don’t have any investments overseas or anything like that. There’ll come a time for that in my life, at some point.  I’ve decided to dedicate myself to public service.  And I will admit that my finances are a lot more – they resemble the people I work for a lot more than the people I work with.

KASIE HUNT: Great.  Thank you, so much for your time, Senator.

MARCO RUBIO: Thank you.

KASIE HUNT: I really appreciate it.

Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio: Obama was a 'backbencher' in Illinois legislature