Quick notes from a morning meeting with Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican.
What he expects from the general election: “You’re going to have an extremely negative [general election] campaign. Barack Obama in 2008 spent more money on negative attacks than anybody who had ever run for office in the United States. Period. And we can expect more of the same. Basically, an all-out assault on the character of whoever his opponent may be, because [Barack Obama] cannot win on his record, he cannot win on his ideas. So he’s going to have to win by eviscerating whoever his opponents are personally. And for all the talk of hope and change, his campaign in 2008 and I expect in 2012 will be nothing less than all-out than personal evisceration.”
On upcoming defense cuts: Rubio was at the recent NATO conference in Munich, and his sense on the impending defense cuts is that “there is no way to comply with the sequester, not without eviscerating the American defense system. It’s the reason why I voted against the whole debt-limit deal. It was poorly constructed. The number they came up with for the defense sequestration was put in there because they knew you couldn’t comply with it. They knew it would be so painful and so catastrophic that it would force the Congress to come up with a deal on the debt limit. It was never meant to be complied with. You just can’t do it.”
On the Senate failing to pass a budget for the past 1,000 days: “Even the most disorganized person I know has a budget. Every family, every business I know has a budget. Every entity I deal with has a budget. The idea that the most powerful government in the world . . . does not have a budget . . . I just think that’s weird. I really don’t understand the logic of it.”
On whether Republicans should risk a government shutdown in future budget fights: “No one here advocates a government shutdown, but we are headed towards the ultimate government shutdown, the mother of all government shutdowns, when we run out of money. That is where we are headed. The sovereign-debt crisis, when people stop buying your bonds and start demanding higher yields, meaning higher interest rates on the money they let you borrow, that stuff happens quickly. There’s no way to predict it, it just happens. Look no further than what the European Union is struggling with to see that’s where we’re headed. The mother of all government shutdowns occurs when we can’t borrow money anymore, or we have to borrow money just to pay the interest on the money we’re borrowing.”
What he thinks the Republican nominee’s message on Obamacare should be, in a nutshell: “One, it’s going to hurt the quality of health care in America; two, it’s going to take away the existing insurance that you’re happy with.”
His sense of the potential for conflict between Israel and Iran in the near future: “Time is ticking, and nothing is happening. I think everyone’s hoping sanctions will work. One of the hardest things for us to understand is that Iran is not run by rational players. It’s run by people who have a warped vision of their place in the world and there’s some instability in Iran between Ahmadinejad and some of the religious leaders in Iran. That friction plays into all of this.”