(This is the second part of a series profiling the potential running mates of GOP candidate Mitt Romney this election. Part I explored the possibility of rumored favorite Ohio Sen. Rob Portman filling the role and his positions on the most pressing issues of the day.)
He’s telegenic, Hispanic, fiscally conservative and widely respected among many in the tea-party movement – but how does Sen. Marco Rubio fare against evangelical Christian and fiscal conservative former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty on the list of potential running mates for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney?
Both Rubio and Pawlenty are rumored to be at the very top of Romney’s list.
The following is an in-depth profile of the potential VP contenders and their positions on many important issues.
Who is Marco Rubio?
Rubio – 41-year-old son of Cuban-American immigrants and a Catholic father of four who is married to a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader – has served in the U.S. Senate for less than two years.
In recent weeks, the media have been buzzing about Mitt Romney’s announcement that Rubio is being “thoroughly vetted” as a potential running mate.
In April, news website BuzzFeed conducted an informal survey of Republican National Committee members gathered in Arizona. While most state Republican Party chairs and members of the RNC said Ohio Sen. Rob Portman was the most probable choice for Romney’s vice president, Rubio was the second most-popular name offered by RNC members. Many Republican insiders believe having a bilingual man on the GOP ticket could help secure Florida this election year by drawing support from Hispanics, who might otherwise vote for a Democrat.
Rubio was elected to the Senate in 2010 after serving as speaker in the Florida House of Representatives. He graduated from the University of Florida and earned a law degree from the University of Miami School of Law in 1996.
In October last year, Rubio was asked if he would refuse an offer to be the vice-presidential nominee in 2012.
“I believe so,” he replied, stressing the importance of his position in the U.S. Senate. “I’m not going to be the vice-presidential nominee … I’m focused on my job right now … The answer is going to be no.”
However, he has recently sent mixed signals and refused to discuss whether he would accept an invitation to be Romney’s running mate.
Is Marco Rubio eligible for VP?
Back in May 2011, WND first reported that Rubio may not be a natural-born citizen because his parents were not U.S. citizens when he was born in Miami.
In 2010, radio giant Rush Limbaugh commented about Rubio’s eligibility while making a point about general media non-interest in Obama’s eligibility.
“Liberal birthers may demand Marco Rubio’s birth certificate,” said Limbaugh. “If he did [run on a presidential ticket], he’ll produce it, I’m sure, but I’m not worried about it. If Obama’s taught us anything, it’s that the news media doesn’t care where our presidents are born. They don’t. Well, let’s see if it does. Let’s see if all of a sudden the media starts caring where Republicans are born. Up to now they haven’t cared where presidents are born. Let’s see if they now start caring.”
Then, in February this year, a WND/Wenzel poll showed that Americans harbor serious doubts about Rubio on the ticket. Just 45 percent said they believe that, under the U.S. Constitution, a child born to parents who are not U.S. citizens is a natural born citizen of the United States. Such is the situation with Rubio. Another 43 percent said they believe someone in his situation is clearly not qualified for this reason, while 12 percent said they were unsure on the question.
Asked specifically whether they would vote for any candidate for president who was not constitutionally eligible to serve, just 15 percent said they would go ahead and vote for such candidate, presumably because other factors would weigh more heavily in their minds. Another 64 percent said they could not vote for such a candidate, while 21 percent said they were unsure on the question.
As WND reported, in his newly released memoir, “American Son,” Rubio makes clear that his parents were both Cuban citizens, not U.S. citizens, when he was born.
In his report, WND senior staff reporter Jerome Corsi explained, “Because of the possibility that the vice president could ascend to the presidency on the death or disability of the president, it is logical to argue that a candidate for vice president must also meet the natural-born citizen requirement of Article 2, Section 1.”
Financial troubles plague Rubio
Some strategists suggest Rubio’s history of financial troubles could be a disqualifier in the vetting process for potential vice presidents.
In January, Reuters reported that Rubio owed far more on his home than it was worth after taking out a large home equity line of credit. While he earned an estimated $400,000 a year, he failed to pay down the principal on his home for several months or the balance on his more than $100,000 student loan.
“Before joining the Senate last year, his name surfaced in an Internal Revenue Service investigation of the Florida Republican Party’s use of party-issued credit cards,” Reuters reported. “He frequently had used his party credit card for personal use, and later reimbursed the card company for about $16,000.
“Rubio’s handling of his personal finances contrasts sharply with the image of him on his Senate website, which highlights Rubio’s efforts to prevent Washington from ‘piling up debt.'”
In April, the Federal Election Commission announced it had fined Rubio $8,000 for “prohibited, excessive and other impermissible contributions totaling $210,173.09″during his Senate run in 2010.
In 2008, the Miami Herald that Rubio “failed to properly disclose a generous home loan from a politically connected bank.”
In response to criticism about his financial affairs, Rubio recently told Christianity Today, “I’m not above criticism. I’m sure people will find fault with what I’ve done or failed to do. I would be the first to recognize that I’m not perfect. Sometimes these things are exaggerated. There are things I wish I had done differently because of perceptions. Most of these issues have been talked about extensively during my campaign in Florida. I confronted those issues and answered questions repeatedly, and I’d be more than happy to answer them again if people want to ask them specifically. Ultimately, I’ve lived a life with real mistakes and real successes. I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish thanks to the opportunities this country has given me and the sacrifices my parents made.”
But what about Rubio’s positions on top issues?
“It is perhaps the most egregious and devastating example of a court that has decided that because a political branch will not deal with an issue they think is important, they’re going to step in and make a policy decision and literally create a Constitutional right.”
He later added, “The way we look at [human rights atrocities] in history and condemn them – this era will be condemned for this, I have no doubt about it. Our job is to accelerate the process of getting there, to ensure that sooner rather than later – God willing, in our lifetime – we can arrive to a consciousness in this nation that this is wrong, that the right to life is a fundamental one that trumps virtually any other right I can imagine, because without it none of the other rights matter.”
Earlier this year, Rubio co-sponsored a measure in the Senate that would enable an employer to opt out of providing contraception coverage to employees. While serving in the Florida House, he voted for establishing a waiting period for abortions and changing the term “viable fetus” to “unborn child” with regard to homicide laws.
Rubio has been critical of the Arizona immigration law, saying in 2010, “I do have concerns about this legislation. While I don’t believe Arizona’s policy was based on anything other than trying to get a handle on our broken borders, I think aspects of the law, especially that dealing with ‘reasonable suspicion,’ are going to put our law enforcement officers in an incredibly difficult position. It could also unreasonably single out people who are here legally, including many American citizens. Throughout American history and throughout this administration we have seen that when government is given an inch it takes a mile.”
Just this month, Rubio said he doesn’t believe other states should follow Arizona’s lead.
“I don’t think it’s a national model, and I don’t think other states should follow suit,” he said.
In 2010, Rubio said illegal aliens should not be counted in the 2010 census. However, while he served in the Florida House in 2003, he co-sponsored a bill that would have allowed illegal-alien children to pay the same college tuition as in-state residents.
Rubio has called for an overhaul of the U.S. legal immigration system, though he claims he does not support “amnesty.”
At a 2010 Florida primary Senate debate, he said, “As far as amnesty, that’s where the governor and I disagree. He would have voted for the McCain plan. I think that plan is wrong. If you grant amnesty, in any form, whether it’s back of the line or so forth, you will destroy any chance we will ever have of having a legal immigration system that works.”
Rubio has said he was working to draft a compromise bill that would allow the children of illegal aliens to remain in the U.S. legally to work and attend college on a non-immigrant visa. The Democrats’ DREAM Act would allow the children of illegals who have graduated from high school and are “of good moral character” to remain in the U.S.
Rubio claimed his plan is different from the Democrat plan because his doesn’t offer a special path to citizenship.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press” June 24, Rubio told David Gregory:
“I began to work on an idea a few months ago that hopefully one day will be reality. And that is what do you do, how do you accommodate kids that came here at a very young age, through no fault of their own, have grown up in this country, graduate high school, want to go to college and be a part of our future, and find themselves here undocumented, through no fault of their own? … We need to accommodate these kids. But ultimately, again, here’s where the balance comes into play, yes, we need to be compassionate towards nine or 12 [million illegal immigrants], whatever the number is, of people. These are human beings. And they are here because they’re looking for a better life.”
However, when Obama issued an executive order to suspend deportation of young illegal aliens and give them work visas, Rubio called the move “a short-term fix to a long-term problem.”
(For details about former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s position on top issues, scroll down to the second half of this report.)
Energy & environment
On March 8, 2012, Rubio voted to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline Project.
During his 2010 Senate campaign, Rubio’s website promised, “As a U.S. senator, I would oppose a national energy tax on American consumers, farmers and business owners. At a time when our economy is struggling, a cap-and-trade scheme would further strain family budgets and destroy jobs. Creating jobs in the energy sectors and becoming more energy efficient requires entrepreneurial innovation, not big government mandates. Instead of higher energy bills and job losses, the American people deserve a comprehensive, job-creating energy policy.”
Rubio has said he supports an energy plan that includes nuclear energy, exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and leasing of oil and natural gas fields in the outer continental shelf and on federally owned lands with oil shale in the West.
He voted to ban the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases and signed the Americans For Prosperity “No Climate Tax Pledge,” promising to “oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.”
Economy & deficit
“In the short term, the number-one issue threatening our country is the economy,” Rubio told Christianity Today. “We have to remain focused on the primary issue before us, the fact that millions of Americans have been out of work and that’s what they look for their next president to help lead the way out of. … Because the president has presided over such failed economic policies, he is deliberately looking to have a debate about anything other than the economy. From a strategic point of view, we need to be cognizant of that.”
Rubio has voted to extend the temporary payroll tax holiday and emergency unemployment benefits and also increase retirement contributions for federal employees. He has voted for a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Rubio has blasted the notion that government spending creates jobs. In 2009, he opposed the $787 billion stimulus bill.
In May, he said it is outrageous that Obama doesn’t believe the nation is facing a debt crisis.
“We are having a debt ceiling crisis on a daily basis and here’s why,” Rubio told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto. “Because this government is spending every year one-and-half trillion dollars more than it takes in. That has to be dealt with; it is not going to solve itself, it’s not going to go away on its own, and every year that it remains unresolved, the harder it’s going to become to solve.”
On the issue of marriage, Rubio recently told Christianity Today:
In terms of the Bible’s interpretation of marriage, what our faith teaches is pretty straightforward. There’s not much debate about that. The debate is about what society should tolerate, and what society should allow our laws to be. I believe marriage is a unique and specific institution that is the result of thousands of years of wisdom, which concluded that the ideal—not the only way but certainly the ideal – situation to raise children to become productive and healthy humans is in a home with a father and mother married to each other. Does that mean people who are not in that circumstance cannot be successful? Of course not.
It’s not a discriminatory thing. I’m not angry at anyone because of it, but I also have to be honest about what I believe marriage should be in our laws.
In May 2012, Rubio joined 15 other co-sponsors of Senate Amendment 2153 to S. 2343, to prohibit increases in interest rates for federal student loans.
While in the Florida House of Representatives, Rubio voted to allow public-school teachers to teach evolution as part of their science curricula.
In 2006, Rubio voted to mandate that schools spend at least 65 percent of funding on classroom instruction and provide free prekindergarten for four-year-old Florida children. He also voted against an amendment to increase teacher salaries.
While Rubio served in the Florida House of Representatives, he voted to ban employers from prohibiting customers and employees from possessing legally owned firearms locked inside their private vehicles.
Rubio voted for a 2005 “castle doctrine” law that allowed people to use deadly force if attacked in their home or any place a person “has a right to be.”
On his 2010 Senate campaign website, Rubio stated, “Like the rest of our Constitution, I believe the 2nd Amendment is a cornerstone of our democracy. I believe the right to bear arms is a constitutionally protected right. The right of citizens to defend themselves by bearing arms is a fundamental human right that should be protected.”
In May 2012, Rubio voted against Senate Amendment 2107 to S. 3187, which would have authorized importation of FDA-approved prescription drugs from Canada.
Rubio opposed Obamacare and voted to adopt Senate Amendment 927 to HR 674, an unsuccessful attempt to repeal it.
During the 2010 Florida Senate debate, Rubio said all of the Bush-era tax cuts should be extended because no American should pay higher taxes during a period if high unemployment and sluggish economic growth.
“It’s a bad time to raise taxes on anybody,” he said. “The only way to improve the economy is by growing the economy and fiscal constraint, and you have to do both.”
Rubio has called the economic stimulus package a failure.
In 2010, when the League of Women Voters asked Rubio what steps the government should take to create jobs and facilitate a strong economic recovery, he replied, ” I believe we need to directly address the uncertainty in the market caused by policies coming from Washington. We need to permanently extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, repeal Obamacare, halt regulations that hurt job creation and promote fair and free trade.”
Rubio is a proponent of reforming the tax code, reducing tax rates and abolishing estate and capital gains taxes.
Other notable votes
In 2011 and 2012, he voted against the following:
- reducing funding for food stamps
- prohibiting FDA approval of genetically engineered fish
- reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act
- repealing authorization for use of military force in Iraq
- repealing unobligated appropriations to foreign assistance programs
Also in 2011 and 2012, he voted for the following:
- repealing sugar subsidies
- limiting farm subsidies to those with incomes under $1 million
- prohibiting insider trading by government officials
- adopt an amendment to S. 2038 that prohibits Congress from considering any bill, resolution, amendment or conference report that includes earmarks
- National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2012
- prohibiting the use of federal funds for prosecuting enemy combatants in civilian courts
- an amendment that appropriates $6.95 billion in federal funds for disaster relief to the following agencies: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
- prohibiting the appointment of presidential “czars” without Senate approval
Who is Tim Pawlenty?
An evangelical Christian and fiscal and social conservative, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has declared, “This is a country that was founded under God.”
Several GOP insiders familiar with campaign deliberations told Politico that Pawlenty has recently soared to the top of Romney’s vice-presidential short list.
“Pawlenty will walk up and put a supporter in a headlock,” a Republican consultant told the news site. “He provides a nice yin and yang to Romney.”
Pawlenty earned his undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Minnesota and worked for the law firm of Rider, Bennett, Egan, and Arundel. In 1992, he was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives, and he became Republican House majority leader in 1999. He was re-elected as a state representative four times.
Pawlenty became the 39th governor of Minnesota on Jan. 6, 2003, and was re-elected in 2006.
He co-chaired Sen. John McCain’s campaign during the 2008 presidential election, and was thought to be a possible running mate for McCain before Sarah Palin was chosen for the position.
Pawlenty announced his candidacy in the 2012 presidential election. However, he was the first GOP candidate to withdraw from the race and endorse Romney.
According to the Associated Press, Pawlenty has said he’s told Romney’s campaign to look elsewhere for a running mate.
Energy & environment
While he was governor, Pawlenty supported reductions in greenhouse gases and a regional cap-and-trade plan. He even made an appearance in a video urging Congress to “deal with the real threat of climate change” together with Janet Napolitano, now secretary of homeland security.
That ad and other statements Pawlenty made on the issue can be seen in the following video:
Pawlenty has since called his position on climate change a mistake.
He told Christianity Today, “All of us should be in favor of reducing pollution, but we need to do that in a way that doesn’t wreck the economy. I came to the conclusion after looking at it very carefully that cap and trade is the wrong approach. I think it is a ham-fisted approach that is government-centered and top down, and the burdens it would have visited on the economy were unwise and really unbearable. …
“Many experts are now predicting that we have enough natural gas in the country to power the base load natural energy needs of the country for a couple hundred years. More nuclear energy would certainly help with reducing emissions. If there’s more emphasis on nuclear, I think someday somebody will be able to bring to the market clean coal technology that will help us utilize the 250-year supply of coal that we have. And of course there are some promising renewable energies, but we’ve got to be careful how we use those, because some of them make more economic sense than others.”
Economy & deficit
Pawlenty has advocated a balanced-budget amendment. He recently said Obama has been “absent on some of the most pressing financial issues of the day.”
Pawlenty argues that the federal government should never spend more than it takes in. He has blasted the bailouts and money-printing and proposed creating more economic growth by creating more economic freedom.
In a June 2011 speech he declared:
We should start by overhauling the tax code. Its currently an anti-growth – 9,000-page monstrosity. That’s chock full of special deals for special interests. It’s main goal – seems to be to generate campaign contributions. Not jobs.
American businesses today pay the second highest tax rates in the world. That’s a recipe for failure – not adding jobs and economic growth.
We should cut the business tax rate by more than half. I propose reducing the current rate from 35 percent to 15 percent.
Pawlenty also called for elimination of special-interest “handouts, carve-outs, subsidies and loopholes.”
“Business success should depend on winning over customers,” he said, “not winning over congressmen.”
He has argued for eliminating capital-gains taxes, interest income tax, dividends tax and the death tax.
“When you deposit a dollar in your bank account, every penny should be forevermore yours and your children’s,” he said, “not the federal government’s.”
He also suggested the best way to ensure Congress becomes fiscally disciplined is to put it in a “spending straightjacket.”
“That’s why I support a constitutional amendment that not only requires a balanced federal budget, but also caps federal spending as a percentage of our economy – around the historical average of 18 percent of GDP,” he said. “Only a constitutional amendment has the power to bind future Congresses to keep their promises, force decision-makers to finally make decisions and give statutory reforms a chance to succeed.”
Pawlenty has also proposed capping and block-granting Medicaid to the states, raising the Social Security retirement age and scaling back the growth in defense spending.
In his speech, Pawlenty declared, “I propose that Congress grant the president the temporary and emergency authority to freeze spending at current levels and impound up to 5 percent of federal spending until such time as the budget is balanced. If they won’t do it, I will.”
He added, “We can fix our economy. Our people are ready to get back to work. We just need to give them to tools to get there – and get the government out of the way.”
In 2011, Palwenty said: “I’m not for amnesty, because I think it rewards illegal behavior.”
He supports strong border enforcement and systematic ID checks by employers.
NumbersUSA reports that Pawlenty signed an executive order requiring government employees and contractors to use E-Verify. However, he has reportedly said he’s not sure whether employers should be required to use E-Verify nationwide.
In 2006, Pawlenty authorized Minnesota’s Army National Guard to play a part in Operation Jump Start, a project to secure the U.S. – Mexico border. He has also defended Arizona’s law ordering police to check for immigration status.
In 2008, he signed an executive order directing the Minnesota State Police to assist federal immigration authorities and take part in the 287(g) program. In that same year, he signed an executive order prohibiting “sanctuary cities” in Minnesota.
In 2010, Pawlenty called for jailing employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens.
Also in 2010, Pawlenty even went so far as to support repeal of so-called “birthright citizenship” for illegal alien children born in the U.S.
“We’re the only, or one of the few, developed nations in the world that allows somebody to come here illegally, give birth to a child, and then have the child be a legal citizen of our country,” Pawlenty said, according to Bloomberg.com. “The only way to trump the court’s decision is to amend the Constitution.”
Pawlenty has said he’s been pro-life his entire life. While in the Minnesota House in 2000, he voted for a bill requiring a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions. He also appointed a pro-life chief justice to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Pawlenty has said he believes Roe v. Wade was “wrongly decided by the Court.”
In a 2011 speech at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, D.C., Pawlenty declared, “It’s really hard to have a quality of life if you don’t have a life … So we need to stand as a conservative movement in respect for life; it’s foundational to our country.”
Pawlenty signed the Susan B. Anthony List’s 2012 Pro-life Presidential Leadership Pledge.
“When I was in the Minnesota Legislature, I was a co-author of the Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage as between a man and a woman,” Pawlenty told the Miami Herald in 2011. “I support a state and federal amendment to the constitutions defining amendments as such.”
Pawlenty co-authored a Minnesota law that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman and has advocated for amending the state constitution to that effect.
He has said he would like to reinstate the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on homosexuals serving in the military.
Pawlenty has argued that “there should be room in [schools’] curriculum for study of intelligent design.” He said parents and local districts should decide whether it’s appropriate to teach creationism in schools – not states and the federal government.
In 2011, Pawlenty called the public-school system “a government-run, lethargic monopoly” and argued for Americans to have more access to options such as homeschooling and charter schools.
Pawlenty has signed legislation requiring the Pledge of Allegiance in Minnesota public schools, and he supports rewarding teachers based on performance.
While Pawlenty was governor, the Minnesota Department of Education applied for $167 million in federal education stimulus funding.
Pawlenty has supported statewide training and background checks for citizens to carry firearms.
He touts his record as the only governor to ever sign conceal-and-carry legislation twice.
Pawlenty has said the right to bear arms is “one of the pillars of our country,” and that he would “unequivocally, unabashedly, strongly, always and forever stand and defend the Second Amendment.”
While Pawlenty does not have a concealed carry permit, he said he owns several weapons.
Obamacare & Romneycare
In August last year, Pawlenty told the Miami Herald one of his biggest presidential campaign regrets was not focusing more on Romneycare:
“In one of the debates I had recently, I was asked a direct point about Massachusetts’ health care, and I stayed focused on Obama, didn’t answer the question about Mitt [Romney’s] role in health care in Massachusetts. That was viewed by some as a missed opportunity. I think it was. It’s something I would have done differently. … The Massachusetts health-care plan was the blueprint or the forerunner of Obamacare.”
Speaking with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto in 2010 on the issue of Obamacare, Pawlenty said, “I issued an executive order directing our state agencies not to accept any Obamacare grants or apply for them unless required by law or approved by me. This is because we don’t like Obamacare. It increases taxes. It’s not going to slow down health-care costs. It’s going to increase them. It’s going to suck us and many other states and people and entities into a federal takeover of health care, and I don’t like it. So, we’re going to do all we can to slow it down, defeat it and hopefully repeal it. But in the meantime, we’re not going to participate unless we’re forced to.”
He blasted massive federal spending and added, “The federal government is basically a drug dealer trying to give out free samples and give people a taste, get them further addicted. And I think we just say, no thanks. We’ve had enough. Get your house in order, by the way, at the same time.”
In a June 2011 speech, Pawlenty declared, “Under Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates, America’s private health-care market is in intensive care. And the prognosis is bad. … We don’t need Obamacare to create a one-size-fits-all, government-run health-care program. We need Washington to allow a personalized, private health-care market to flourish and meet the diverse needs of individual patients.”
(This is the second part of a series profiling the potential running mates of GOP candidate Mitt Romney this election. Read Part I to learn about the possibility of rumored favorite Ohio Sen. Rob Portman filling the role and his positions on the most pressing issues of the day.)