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Sen. Marco Rubio: Immigration 'not easily solved' on campaign trail

Sen. Marco Rubio (R) of Florida, speaking June 21 at a Monitor breakfast, defended Mitt Romney's support for a robust legal immigration system, while acknowledging he 'doesn't have a ... bill.'

Michael Bonfigli / The Christian Science Monitor
Sen. Marco Rubio (R) of Florida (second from right) speaks at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters on June 21 at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) is a fast-rising Hispanic political star. He won a seat on the West Miami City Commission in 1998, two years after graduating from law school. Two years later, this son of Cuban immigrants was elected to the Florida House, becoming its youngest speaker. In 2010, he defeated Florida's Republican governor to win a seat in the US Senate, where he is the second-youngest member. Senator Rubio, talked about as a Republican vice-presidential contender, was the guest at the June 21 Monitor Breakfast in Washington.

If he thinks Attorney General Eric Holder should resign after a House committee on June 20 voted him in contempt of Congress for failing to cooperate in an investigation into a botched gun-running scheme on the border:

"At this point, I do.... We have about reached the point of no return on this issue. I think [the Justice Department has] been given multiple opportunities to answer very legitimate questions that the Congress has. We know for a fact that something they told the Congress was not true.... It's very legitimate for the Congress to inquire as to why we were told something that wasn't true.... And I think invoking executive privilege at the 11th hour [on June 20] was probably the last straw."

The visceral effect of the immigration issue for Hispanics:

"I call it a gateway issue, because for Hispanics, immigration is not a statistical debate. It is an issue regarding someone they know and probably someone they love."

Mitt Romney's stating that illegal immigrants should 'self-deport':

"I have never understood self-deportation ... as a policy. It is not a policy. It is an observation of what people will do in a country that is enforcing its immigration laws.... Some of that is happening now because of economic improvement in Mexico."

Charges that Mr. Romney has not articulated a clear immigration policy:

"I don't think he has struggled to articulate his position. He supports legal immigration and anything he can do to improve the legal immigration system…. He doesn't have an immigration bill per se, but neither does the president…. This is not an issue that is easily solved on the campaign trail."

US energy policy:

"America does not have a comprehensive, well-stated policy. It has energy politics.... [I]t is important that we have a stable and affordable supply of domestic energy because ... it allows you to attract manufacturing in some sectors back to the United States.... This new supply of American energy, particularly in the natural-gas realm, is a real ... game changer."

Dangers of congressional gridlock:

"A day of reckoning is coming. We can ignore all these issues, but these issues will not ignore us. The US has a broken tax code, and if it doesn't fix it, our economy won't grow. The US has a problem with regulations,... we want our water to be drinkable, we want our air to be breathable,... but at the same time, if regulations become too difficult to comply with, people won't do business here."

On balancing his office with time for his four children, ages 4 to 12:

"I worry about it, and one of the things I wanted to put in [his new autobiography] was that concern."

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