WASHINGTON — Former Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said his policy differences with presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump remain but he emphasized he is not “insisting” Trump “change anything” going forward.
“My policy differences and reservations about Donald’s campaign are well-established and I’ve said them often and I stand by them – those remain, and I hope they will be addressed, but those remain. That said, I don’t view myself as a guy who is going to sit here for the next six months taking shots at him. People know where I stand. They know how I feel. They know what our differences are,” Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said at the Hudson Institute in Washington.
“He’s the nominee of the Republican Party, or the presumptive nominee via the voters, and I respect that and accept it but that’s not going to change the reservations I have about his campaign or about some of the policies that he has established. But I’m not insisting he change anything. I mean, he needs to be true to whoever he is and if that’s the things he believes in he’ll have a chance to make that argument to the American people.”
Rubio continued, “I am going to focus on making the arguments I think are important for our country and right for our future and looking forward to supporting candidates around the country especially for federal office that share those views.”
During the discussion, Rubio said public officials face the challenge of having to explain to the American people why staying engaged in international affairs is important.
“It’s hard because it is a lot easier to say ‘let’s walk away.’ It is a lot easier to say, for example, ‘why do we give all this money to NATO and these other people we are protecting do not?’” Rubio said, alluded to Trump’s position on NATO.
“It’s easier to say that than to explain what would happen if you didn’t. And so that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it, I just think it takes time,” he added.
Citing the financial crisis and wages that have not recovered yet, Rubio said the “natural instinct” of voters is to say, “all this stuff just brings us grief. Let’s just focus here at home.”
“If we can just sell things to each other and do business with one another and forget about everyone else — it’s a very human and natural instinct, it just doesn’t work,” Rubio said.
Rubio, who just wrapped up a trip to the Middle East, argued that now is not the time for the U.S. to step off the world stage.
“I don’t think there has ever been a period where international affairs has a bigger impact on our economy than it does today,” he said.
Rubio lamented the labels political reporters put on lawmakers such as hawk and dove.
“I don’t even know what those terms mean anymore. It depends. When it comes to Canada, I’m a dove. When it comes to the Middle East, sometimes I’m more hawkish but these are easy labels to put on someone and it makes it easier to cover the story from a political angle but it doesn’t do service to the nuance involved in issues such as this,” he said.
Rubio said most political reporters cover the “horse race” rather than actual foreign policy issues.
“Today’s press that covers this process is not interested in covering any of that. The majority of what I’ll say today or any other day is covered by political reporters who are covering the horse race,” he said. “This is not a slight on political reporters but political reporters cover foreign affairs not from a policy angle but from a political angle — ‘what is he angling for politically?’ So it is becoming harder than ever to have this conversation.”