Marco Rubio is the former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. He recently announced his plans to run against Gov. Charlie Crist for the United States Senate for the Republican seat that Sen. Mel Martinez currently holds. Scott Spages interviewed the Miami native on his policies, his book and his inspiration for running for office.
Scott Spages (SS): “Growing up did you have a favorite sport, or hobby?”
Marco Rubio (MR): “Football, and it is still my favorite sport. I didn’t have the height, the size the speed or talent to play, but I love the game. … I am a huge Miami Dolphins fan and University of Florida Gator fan.”
SS: “Who has most shaped you as a leader – your mother or your father? Why?”
MR: “I think both. I strongly believe that the ideal setting to raise a child and for a child to grow up is in a stable home – not a prosperous home, not a rich home, but a stable home – where their mother and father are in love with each other and that they make it their joint mission to raise children. And I was the beneficiary of that.”
SS: “Where and how did you meet your spouse?”
MR: “I met Jeannette in Miami. She was best friends with my college roommate’s girlfriend at the time, and that was back in the summer of 1991, and we dated ever since then. We got married in 1998, but we have been together now since 1991, and we have been married for almost 11 years.”
SS: “What was your first job?”
MR: “My brother-in-law owned an import-export company of exotic birds, and [I] used to build the cages for them.”
SS: “Favorite movie?”
MR: “‘Wedding Crashers’ (The John Adams mini-series).”
SS:?”Last book read?”
MR: “I read several books at once … Mark Levin’s ‘Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destroying America’ and Scott Hans’ ‘The Lamb Supper,’ which is based on the Catholic Eucharist. I am big on theology.”
SS: “Musical preference?”
MR: “I like more urban music including some R&B and some Hip Hop and rap, the more non-offensive type.”
SS: “Favorite team?”
MR: “Miami Dolphins.”
SS: “You first served as a City Commissioner in West Miami before being elected to the Florida House of Representatives in District 111 in 2000. What was your motivation to run for public office?”
MR: “The belief that government matters and that the decisions that are made at the governmental level impacts our lives and that the people that are there are doing it for the right reason.”
SS: “Can you name a key issue or project that you worked on as a State Representative that you are most proud of?”
MR: “Actually, some of the things that I am most proud of are things that didn’t come to fruition, but I am proud of the fact that we are a voice in the wilderness when we were saying that Florida’s real estate market was on the verge of collapsing and that we need to do meaningful property tax reform. I am pleased that the Florida House was a consistent voice for what was right and that we were able to do some defensive things.
For example, we were able to prevent the irresponsible expansion of gambling all over the state of Florida including a successful lawsuit before the Florida Supreme Court to invalidate the governor’s compact with the Seminole Tribe of Indians. …
I am proud of the first bill I ever filed which was a bill that was really motivated by a personal experience.
My mom, in the spring of 1998, had a heart procedure that we had to spend four days fighting with an HMO to get it covered. So one of my first bills is one that would require that if an adverse determination is made by an insurance carrier, in essence, if an insurance company says that someone doesn’t need a procedure, that decision has to be made by a medical professional that works for the company. A doctor, not an accountant or bureaucrat, has to sign off on that decision. … It is not a big thing, but one I cared about.”
SS: “Please tell us about your book ‘100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future.'”
MR: “The book is based on two things. One of them is that government is best when it is about ideas as opposed to personalities or scandal or playing defense.
The second one is that the process is not really adept in identifying emerging issues. We really only deal with things in Current Events when they become a crisis or when some Newspaper adopts it as it cause celeb or when someone hires someone to tell us about it like a lobbyist.
So what we did is we said. ‘Let’s go out there and talk to people and ask them what they would do if they were in our position. What would they focus on?’
And from that, we picked up a lot of things. We picked up the property tax issue before it was really polling. We picked up gang violence before it really started hitting the front pages of Newspapers. We picked up the need for career and vocational training in our schools. Even now, it is not talked about enough. I hope this will be a part of my U.S. Senate Campaign as well.”
SS: “In your farewell speech as the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives in 2004, you made profound statements about your belief in God and America. Among other things you stated that ‘God is real,’ and ‘God loves everyone.’ Please comment about this speech.”
MR: “The farewell speech is really an opportunity for me to speak as an individual, not as a political leader, although I think there is nothing wrong with political leaders sharing their views on faith. … If God is not real, then life doesn’t make sense to me, and, quite frankly, it is hardly worth living. And I believe that, and I thought it was an important point to share.
The point that I was trying to make was that sometimes those of us in government or involved in Current Events think that just because we passed the law or the Supreme Court says you are not supposed to talk about God in certain places that somehow God isn’t there. And this notion that we have that we can actually keep God’s presence out of parts of our lives is ridiculous.
God is wherever He wants to be, and whether we want God’s hand to be real or not, it is involved in everything, in all human affairs. People don’t have to believe that. We can’t force folks to believe that, but I think that those of us who do shouldn’t have to apologize for it.”
SS: “Is there a person in American history that you truly admire or are fascinated by, and why?”
MR: “All members of the Founding Fathers fascinate me, in terms of the real sacrifices and risks that they undertook to bring about what was at that time a novel idea –the notion that somehow your rights that were given to you by your Creator, not by a king. …
I have great admiration for the entire ‘Greatest Generation,’ those folks that grew up in the Depression and many that died in World War II, women who went to work in factories. I think the greatness of America finds itself in no better embodiment than that ‘Greatest Generation,’ and I think that my children’s generation will have the opportunity in many respects to be the next ‘Great Generation.’