“These are communities made up of people who value common sense wisdom and working class values,” Rubio said when asked why Hispanic voters in Miami swung significantly Trump's and Republicans' way in 2020, a trend also seen in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.
“That's what their life is built on. Those are two things the left has abandoned. You hear lots of people talk about whether it's socialism. Socialism is a part of it. Socialism is a part of the common sense part of it. In their mind, if I were to step in the shoes of someone who maybe voted for Obama in 2012, then voted for Donald Trump in 2020, they would say to you, ‘Look, I came from a socialist country. I fled it. Why the hell would we do that here?' It makes no sense to them. So you see Democrats stand up and say, ‘I'm not a socialist,' and no you're not. You don't brand yourself as a socialist, but you support socialist things, and you support socialist leaders and socialist politics. It just makes no sense to them.”
Rubio added that this shift will be “permanent” as long as Republicans remain focused on common sense values that Trump championed for the GOP moving forward. He noted that most people in the Hispanic community do not spend all day on Twitter following establishment media figures' orders, but, instead, “they just live life based on common sense.”
“The left has abandoned that,” Rubio said. “I think President Trump was doing a lot of things based on common sense. In their mind, it made all the sense in the world. They don't understand why their side is against it. And then working class values. Most of these people here don't care what you do with your life. They don't want to tell you how to live your life, who to marry, who to love, and so forth–but you're asking them to abandon three or four thousand years of accumulated human wisdom because a handful of crazy professors have convinced people everything we knew was true is no longer true on things like gender, on this or that. These guys just got turned off by all that, and I think it accelerated through the summer on the pandemic and the rioting and all of that. I think that shift is permanent unless we as Republicans go back to being who we used to be–then we give these people no political home.”
Rubio's comment came as part of a lengthy exclusive interview with Breitbart News as part of Breitbart's new On the Hill in-depth video series. Rubio joined Breitbart News for more than an hour here in Miami before Memorial Day for an interview at the Kendall location of Sergio's, a local family-owned Cuban restaurant chain in business for three generations, since the mid-1970s–and discussed everything from that shift in Hispanic political support towards Trump-like Republicans to what Republicans need to do moving forward. Later in the interview, too, Rubio noted that average Americans–and people who fled socialist countries–can see that run-of-the-mill Democrats, even if they claim they are not socialists, are pushing socialist policies. He said he respects Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) because he at least publicly admits he is a socialist, unlike many other Democrats who try to hide it.
“It's very funny you have a lot of Democrats say, ‘I'm not a socialist. Bernie might be, but I'm not,'” Rubio said. “Well, actually, Bernie is honest about it. I actually like Bernie Sanders. I don't like his politics, but he's an honest, straight guy. He's legitimate about what he believes in, and he's not trying to hide it. These other people are like, ‘Oh, I'm not a socialist.' But you vote for all the socialist stuff? They're all interlinked–if you're there, you also happen to be anti-Israel. You also happen to believe America has a history of 240 years of horrible things and that this is the worst country in history. They're all part of the same club.”
What's more, in this interview, Rubio addressed his upcoming U.S. Senate reelection campaign and his possible political future beyond that–including if he may run for president again–all while making the case for his effectiveness in government given his role in promulgating programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Rubio was instrumental in developing that program, which benefited among hundreds of thousands of other small businesses nationwide this restaurant, Sergio's. The chain's CEO, Carlos Gazitua, gave a tour to Rubio and Breitbart News upon the senator's arrival for the interview, explaining that his local family-owned six-location restaurant chain's 450 employees survived the pandemic in large part thanks to PPP. Countless more stories like his exist across the country. Gazitua, during the tour, said the PPP aid was critical to keeping people on the payrolls and keeping his business afloat. Now, like many other businesses across the country trying to get back to normal, Gazitua told Rubio and Breitbart News that Sergio's is facing the exact inverse problem–in large part due to enhanced federal unemployment benefits that Democrat President Joe Biden's administration extended this year as part of its $1.9 trillion partisan coronavirus spending plan–in that the restaurant chain is having trouble finding applicants for open jobs despite already having increased pay and benefits to try to attract more prospective employees.
Rubio said the PPP program was important “because it was about workers and it was about work.” But now, combined with the consequences of the Biden administration's other policies, Rubio said Biden's perversion of the PPP program away from its original intent and purpose as it operated under Trump has stagnated economic growth in the United States. The last three months straight–April, May, and now June–have seen lower-than-expected jobs numbers, despite Biden's efforts to spin them last week as “historic.” Nonetheless, Rubio asserted, when Trump was implementing the program as developed by him and passed by the GOP-controlled Senate last year, PPP, he said, was the single most effective government intervention in a crisis he has seen in his lifetime.
“A lot of attention is paid to the small businesses that were saved by it, and that's very legitimate, but we sat down, and we said, ‘What's the worst thing that can happen?'” Rubio said. “The worst thing that could happen is millions of people who work for a small business get laid off, spend months not working–so now, collecting unemployment–and it's corrosive. It's destructive to your life, to your person. Work is about a lot more than just a paycheck. That's why it's called the Paycheck Protection Program. We wanted to keep as many–at a time of tremendous uncertainty–we wanted to keep as many people attached to their employer as possible. Of course, that helped the small businesses. It was an enormous success, and the Trump administration deserves a lot of credit. They bent over backwards to make it work. It's unfortunate because you're watching what's happening with it now, and since January, it's been a catastrophe. The Biden administration's SBA people–they're terrible. They've continued to change the rules. They've injected all kinds of crazy new requirements in it that have confused everybody. But I can tell you, by and large, PPP was–I think–the most valuable and effective government intervention in a time of crisis that we've seen certainly in my lifetime.”
As China was roiled by the coronavirus in January 2020, while Democrats in Washington were obsessed with their first impeachment of Trump, conducting the trial in the U.S. Senate after they had voted in the House to impeach him in December 2019, Rubio went to work to develop the beginnings of what would become the PPP program. Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, now the minority leader, tasked Rubio in February 2020, in the possibility that the pandemic hit the shores of the U.S., with developing a way for the federal government to get assistance directly to small businesses. Back then, the Treasury Department could send big businesses cash and aid directly, and it could send cash or stimulus payments directly to Americans. It could also top up unemployment insurance programs, which it also did in the pandemic in addition to PPP. But no vehicle ever existed before PPP for the federal government to provide direct aid into the hands of small business owners, and Rubio, his staff, partners in both parties on Capitol Hill and in the Trump administration set out to develop what became the PPP. The program, which the Senate passed as part of the first big coronavirus relief package in late March 2020, ended up winning bipartisan support. Rubio specifically thanked GOP Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Democrat Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) for their support of this–and told Breitbart News that this is an example of government working “the way it was supposed to work.”
“We saw–I remember we were in the middle of, we were wasting our time on the floor of the Senate on the impeachment trial but before noon when it started, or one o'clock, we were already talking about, ‘Hey, if this pandemic hits, we need to help get small businesses and get into the supply chain issues,'” Rubio told Breitbart News. “Because the pandemic is hitting China, we're going to see disruption–how are we going to make up the supply chain losses? This is a good time to build up capacity of small businesses. So we're already thinking about it, and then when the pandemic hit, we kind of shifted over and created this, instead. We realized it was going to be a lot bigger than just supply chain. So, look, it was bipartisan. Frankly, I mean, Democrats worked with us on it at that point in time, and I'm proud of that because you can't get anything passed if it's not bipartisan. Steve Mnuchin deserves a lot of credit. He was a big part of it, and other people were helping us with it. But I named it–the Paycheck Protection Program, I came up with that–but a lot of the ideas, our staff deserves a lot of credit and so, too, does Sen. Collins and the other people who helped with it-to be fair, Sen. Cardin. It was a time where, you know, it worked the way it was supposed to work. We were thinking about people, not about politics.”
Rubio said that the program–which was designed to help small businesses make it through the tough period when the government was telling them not to open up but, instead, to close down in the early days of the pandemic–worked exactly as designed. PPP pumped out more than 10.8 million different forgivable loans to small businesses nationwide through the Small Businesses Administration, awarding more than $780 billion in aid directly to small businesses like Sergio's across the country. By the summer, according to the Trump administration, the PPP saved more than 51 million jobs from the coronavirus pandemic.
Rubio's team has been hyping success stories of PPP recently as well:
Rubio said it prevented big conglomerates from gobbling up small businesses across the country, protecting American workers and their jobs in the process.
“That's what I always tell people. I always tell people, ‘So why was government involved in all this?'” Rubio said. “We're telling people they can't open their business. If I tell you Sergio's–the government wants to take over Sergio's because we need it for a public purpose, that's called a taking. We got to compensate them for it. If we tell them we have to close you because of a pandemic, that's a taking. It's the equivalent of a taking; that's the way I viewed it at the time. But for me, honestly, I knew the airlines were going to get their money. All the big companies were going to get their money. But what was going to happen to these small businesses? Millions of them would have collapsed, and they'd be gone forever. Instead of being at Sergio's today, we'd be eating at Amazon's new Cuban restaurant. They would have been taken over by the big businesses.”
Effective legislating is going to be one of the big themes of Rubio's reelection campaign next year. Before this interview, Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) announced she was intending to run against him for the U.S. Senate, and Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) said she was exploring a Senate bid. Murphy has since dropped out, and it is unclear if any other Democrats will run for the Senate seat in a primary against Demings. Asked about Demings, Murphy, and his reelection campaign, Rubio said no matter whom he faces in the general election, he will face an ineffective leftist Democrat. He also hyped his successes in passing “meaningful” legislation such as the PPP and the Veterans Affairs reform bill at the beginning of the Trump administration, whereas his opponent will not have such a record of getting things done.
“I'm looking forward to it. I think elections are a great time to reaffirm who you are and what you value. It gives energy to your work, and it gives you an opportunity to go to people and say, ‘This is what I've done, and this is what I'll do if you send me back,'” Rubio said. “I wasn't going to go unopposed. They've got to run somebody. So these people are running because, one, they don't think they're going to have a district or because they've been promised some position by Biden if they lose. Whatever it may be–bottom line, whoever my opponent is, it's going to be someone who's going to vote for Chuck Schumer to be the Senate majority leader. It's going to be someone who thinks minorities like me and those who work here are incapable of producing a photo ID to go vote and that somehow we aren't smart enough to produce a photo ID and that that's discriminatory. It's going to be somebody who thinks the federal government should pour trillions of dollars into doing energy changes that China is not doing that leaves people unemployed and that continually and constantly hurt working people. These people who work on the pipeline, these working people on the Keystone XL pipeline, at the stroke of a pen all lost their jobs. It's going to be radical people that won't speak up against the most radical elements of their party because they're afraid of it–and on and on; the list goes on. I look forward to that contrast. Then the biggest contrast of all is I look forward to talking about my record. I have passed 36 bills. That requires bipartisan work to do it, and not 36 like naming post offices. Meaningful things, like the VA reform bill, the first bill that President Trump signed, increasing the child tax credit, the Paycheck Protection Program. My work on China is so effective I was banned and sanctioned by China. So I look forward to telling that story and comparing it to what those people did over there, which is press conferences, complaining, wasting time with impeachment trials. But what did they do for real people in the real world? What did they do for any of the people who work here? They've done nothing. Nothing. So I look forward to it. I'm excited about it.”
Asked if he intends to run for president again in 2024, or beyond, Rubio said, “Maybe.”
“Yeah, maybe, only because–first of all, I've ran for president before, so I can't say, “Oh, I'm never interested in that job,'” Rubio said. “But I think what happens over time is you learn. Sometimes you're so focused on what's ahead that you don't focus on what's in front of you. So I think ultimately if you do a good job at whatever your job is, it creates opportunities for you to do different things in the future or to continue doing what you're doing in a better way. So one of the things I've grown to appreciate is I don't know what the world is going to look like, what the country is going to be looking for, what the party is going to be looking for, or what my personal circumstances are going to be in four years. So maybe. I think there's a lot to be determined between now and then. But I've got to focus on my job today and then 2022, and then we'll see with 2024. Here's the point. Could I? Sure, because I've run before. If I see an opportunity to offer something no one else is offering in that race, then I would consider it. But, ultimately, I know I want to be in the U.S. Senate at least for another six years after this because there are things we have left to do, and one of the main things is to ensure in America we have a center-right party that fights on behalf of the men and women who work here 10 to 12 hours a day, who own businesses like this, who fled socialism and who fled craziness in other countries and don't want to see the greatest country in the world destroyed and turned into one of these countries they came here to get away from.”
Rubio in the interview also hammered the Chinese Communist Party and Biden for his coziness with it.
“Their mission and goal is pretty clear, and that is to emerge as the world's most powerful nation,” Rubio said of the Chinese Communist Party. “They view the last 100 years as an aberration, and they want to reclaim their rightful place in the world, which in their minds is as the world's most powerful country. They view it as a zero-sum game.”
Rubio agreed when Breitbart News noted that the CCP views Beijing as the center of the world, adding that the view is “deep and cultural.”
“It used to be they viewed themselves as the center of the world, but they were isolated. Now, they don't intend to isolate,” Rubio said. “They intend to spread this all over the world. That's their goal. And then they've laid it out for us. They came up with a plan called Made in China 2025, and they laid out how they intend to dominate ten key industries in the 21st century. Then what they do is they pour a bunch of money into companies favored by the state. There's no such thing as a Chinese corporation from our sense of the word; these are corporations that are allowed to be successful by the government and they have to do what the government tells them. They pour a bunch of money into these companies and give them exclusive access to their marketplace, and then we let them come here and do whatever they want as well. They invest in innovation and in technological advancement, but they also steal it from us, and they steal it not just by hacking, but by sending graduate students to steal the research or by bribing. They literally will just pay an American researcher: ‘Hey, just bring your research to China, and we'll pay you.' That research was sometimes funded by the American taxpayer. That's what they're doing, and they know how to play our system against us. So when you want to get tough on China, some corporation who's been allowed to do business in China and has a two percent market share or has some factory in China sends their CEO to the White House and says, ‘Oh, you can't do this because it would be bad for the economy.' They operate the same with the universities, who make a lot of money off graduate students who are paying full rate. ‘Oh, we can't do this. We can't kick out the graduate students even if they work for the army and the military of China.' That's what they do. So the response to it is we have to wake up to this threat, and we have to recognize there are some key industries in which government has to partner with the private sector if we want to make the advancement we want to make. That's what we did with the vaccine. We would have eventually had a vaccine, but we needed it now. So government was able to incentivize the private sector to get them to that outcome. We need to do that with quantum computing, with artificial intelligence, with telecom, with 5G, with all of these important industries–pharmaceuticals. We can't keep buying 83 percent of our medicine from China. If they cut us off, what do we do? These are the kinds of things we really need to begin to focus on.”
Rubio ripped woke leftist corporations, too–while explaining several steps Republicans can take to win populist support in response to all of this. Specifically, Rubio addressed what he calls “Common Good Capitalism,” where Republicans, he said, need to be more interested in what is in the best interest of the United States and in the best interest of American workers and families than in the interests of special interests, lobbyist, corporations, CEOs, and Wall Street bankers.
“Yeah, a couple points,” Rubio said when asked if his Common Good Capitalism view is the antidote to woke leftist corporations. “The first on woke corporatism, the companies–they have a right to believe whatever they want. The problem is it's hypocritical and biased. When not even Chick-fil-A–when its founders believed in something, people wanted to boycott Chick-fil-A, and I didn't see the media here complaining about that. The same is true with these companies. They're hypocrites. So when Nike and Apple–all these guys, they made billions of dollars doing business, they'll bend over backwards and do whatever the Chinese ask. Anything. Because they want to make money over there. Then they come here, and they say, ‘Let's not say anything about Uyghur Muslims in work camps who are worked to death and killed–genocide–but we'll boycott an American state whose elected officials passed a law through its legislative, constitutional process.' That's complete hypocrisy if you're going to be in the United States and criticize this country but say nothing about these other countries. So that's number one. The second point, you ask about ‘Common Sense Capitalism.' I believe in capitalism 100 percent. I said this the other day; I grew up as an orthodox capitalist–if it was a religion, orthodox capitalism–and I think over time what you learn and what you see is the world has changed. What's good for an American megacorporation is not necessarily good for America in many cases in this new economy. I think the market is the best place to go, the best way to go because it's going to give you the most efficient outcome. The problem is: What if the most efficient outcome is bad for America? What if it is more efficient to send jobs–it is more efficient to send jobs to cheaper labor in another country, but it's not good for Americans? So what is our role? To just say, ‘Well, that's the way the market works? Or is our role to work for Americans? That's what ‘Common Good Capitalism' is; it's market capitalism, but when the outcomes are not good for the country, it's our obligation to step in and incentivize an outcome that is in the common good. Frankly, that's what Operation Warp Speed was.”
Rubio said to succeed moving forward, Republicans need to embrace the American worker. And he cited two major things to do that: First, recognize the threat of the Chinese Communist Party. Second, stand up against woke corporate influences–his theme of Common Good Capitalism.
“I think there's two fundamental overarching things. The first is we have a near-peer competitor in China. The Chinese government–the entire government–is focused on one thing, and that is overtaking the United States as the world's most powerful country. By the year 2027, which would be the 100th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army, they want to have parity with the United States militarily,” Rubio said. “They want to surpass us economically, technologically. They want to be the most powerful country in the world. They're throwing everything at it. We have been asleep at the switch up until the beginning of the Trump presidency. Everybody thought once China gets rich, they'll become like us. It didn't play out that way. They're seeking to replace us. So that overarches everything. In terms of within the party, there was a thinking for a long time that if a group of CEOs or finance people–who I don't hate or dislike any of them; they have a part to play in our economy–but if a bunch of them got together and came to Washington and said, ‘We want you to pass this' that meant it was good for the economy because they spoke for the economy. But I think we have this realization that just because it was good for them and just because it's good for the corporation, doesn't necessarily mean it's good for Americans or America. It may be good for them to have a bunch of workers in another country, but it's not good for America. It may be good for them to have their productive capacity somewhere else or to depend on China for our medicines and our rare earth metals and all that, but it's not good for America. So I think there's this growing acceptance that the economy and the free market, which we support, exists to serve people–not our people to serve the market. Then you've got to turn that into policies. So, yeah, we're 100 percent for free enterprise. Socialism is a disaster. But when the free enterprise outcome is bad for America, our obligation is to America, not to the market–and the market is a tool to help America. I think that's a shift that's tough for a lot of people that come from, like I did, traditional conservative economics that I think worked a lot better in the 80s than it does in a world where, increasingly, outcomes that are good for multinational corporations are not good for Americans.”