Home / News / Washington Free Beacon / Rubio Turns Question on NRA Support into Speech About Desire for Liberties, Press Freedoms in Cuba and Venezuela

Rubio Turns Question on NRA Support into Speech About Desire for Liberties, Press Freedoms in Cuba and Venezuela

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) answered a question from a Cuban reporter about his support from the National Rifle Association with a speech about his wish for nations like Venezuela and Cuba to have the same kinds of personal and press freedoms that exist in the United States.

Rubio traveled to Peru to represent the U.S. at the Summit of the Americas—along with Vice President Mike Pence—following President Donald Trump's decision to cancel his trip there. At a press conference, reporter Sergio Gomez brought up the Feb. 14 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, which thrust Rubio's gun rights support into the spotlight.

"I wonder if the influence lobbyists hold on politicians was in the agenda, specifically the NRA from whom you’ve received more than $3 million. What do you say to your voters from Lima? Will you continue to accept money from that organization? What do you say to the Parkland victims?" he asked.

The Cuban-American Senator expressed gratitude for the question and Gomez's ability to challenge a public official.

"I think this is important because I am willing to answer questions in an open forum where you can have discrepancies," he said in Spanish. "There are people in my country that don’t agree with how the Second Amendment of the Constitution is interpreted. Those people who are in disagreement with my stance on this issue have the right to vote against me."

Rubio invoked Cuba and Venzuela, two countries for which he has been a longtime advocate for democratic reforms. Cubans have languished for decades under the rule of the Castros, and Venezuela is mired in a horrific domestic crisis due to socialist policies and crackdowns by Nicolas Maduro. Both countries have abysmal human rights and press freedom records.

"My wish is that Cuba, Venezuela and every country who has differences can decide them in the polls," Rubio said. "Not through violence, not through illegitimate political movements. That’s what I wish. At the end of the day I think that in a free society, those who have disagreements with a political stance can vote against that politician. In five years, I will have to run again."

Gomez again asked if Rubio would keep accepting NRA money, and Rubio replied that he supported the Second Amendment and had the support of those who did also.

"It’s simple. In the United States, in comparison to Cuba, we have a free press," Rubio said. "The press can question and criticize me all they want, and they do so daily. I’m glad we’re able to hold a debate, because in Cuba you can’t have a debate. The answer is that in the U.S. the people know my stance. We also have transparency on who donates and who doesn’t."

"Yes, I support the Second Amendment and those people who support that Amendment support me," he added. "Those who don’t support it can vote against me. I wish you could also do that in Cuba, because you can’t."

Rubio has worked closely with the Trump administration on Latin America policy. According to the Washington Post, Rubio drafted the list of Venezuelan officials accused of human rights abuses, which became the basis for U.S. sanctions. He also advised Trump to roll back the Obama administration policy opening relations with Cuba.

Rubio has been directly asked the NRA question before, at a CNN town hall one week after the Parkland massacre. He told student Cameron Kasky he would continue to accept the donations of anyone who supported his agenda.

Full exchange:

SERGIO GOMEZ: The central theme of the summit is the fight against corruption. I wonder if the influence lobbyists hold on politicians was in the agenda, specifically the NRA from whom you’ve received more than $3 million. What do you say to your voters from Lima? Will you continue to accept money from that organization? What do you say to the Parkland victims?

MARCO RUBIO: Where are you from? What news outlet?

GOMEZ: Sergio Gomez, from Cuba. Granma newspaper.

RUBIO: Which one?

GOMEZ: Granma.

RUBIO: I’m glad you can come here and freely express yourself and I welcome you. I think this is important because I am willing to answer questions in an open forum where you can have discrepancies. There are people in my country that don’t agree with how the Second Amendment of the Constitution is interpreted. Those people who are in disagreement with my stance on this issue have the right to vote against me. Even though I won the elections, in my country, those individuals who disagree with me on that topic can vote against me. Millions voted against me, but millions more voted in my favor. That’s my greatest desire. My wish is that Cuba, Venezuela and every country who has differences can decide them in the polls. Not through violence, not through illegitimate political movements. That’s what I wish. At the end of the day I think that in a free society, those who have disagreements with a political stance can vote against that politician. In five years, I will have to run again.

GOMEZ: Will you continue accepting the money? It’s a direct question.

RUBIO: It’s simple. In the United States, in comparison to Cuba, we have a free press. The press can question and criticize me all they want, and they do so daily. I’m glad we’re able to hold a debate, because in Cuba you can’t have a debate. The answer is that in the U.S. the people know my stance. We also have transparency on who donates and who doesn’t. Yes, I support the Second Amendment and those people who support that Amendment support me. Those who don’t support it can vote against me. I wish you could also do that in Cuba, because you can’t.

The post Rubio Turns Question on NRA Support into Speech About Desire for Liberties, Press Freedoms in Cuba and Venezuela appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Original Article

Check Also

Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly Will Vote to Confirm Pompeo

Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly (Ind.) announced on Monday that he will vote to confirm CIA Director Mike Pompeo as the new secretary of state. Donnelly released a statement on Twitter expressing his support for Pompeo, who was nominated by President Donald Trump last month to replace Rex Tillerson at the State Department. "When I met with Director Pompeo, we had a productive conversation about the complex security challenges we face, including the dangerous threat posed by North Korea's nuclear missile program. I strongly believe that a successful, peaceful outcome will require a comprehensive strategy and a full team on the field, including an effective State Department, to leverage all available tools," the statement reads. "We need a Secretary of State who will give the president an honest assessment on critical issues, including Russia, Syria, and the defeat of ISIS. I believe Director Pompeo is capable of advancing U.S. interests and leading the State Department, and I will support his nomination." Joe announced his support for the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State. READ Joe’s statement: pic.twitter.com/ASsYpX869k — Senator Joe Donnelly (@SenDonnelly) April 23, 2018 Donnelly joins Sens. Joe Manchin (D., W.V.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D., N.D.) as the only Democrats so far to announce their support for Pompeo. All three Democrats face tough reelection challenges in states Trump won overwhelmingly in 2016. The support of red-state Democrats will be vital in confirming Pompeo as Republicans hold a slim 51-49 majority in the Senate. Republican Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) has maintained his intention to vote against Pompeo's nomination for the same reasons he opposed his confirmation as CIA director. Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) is absent from the Senate undergoing treatment for cancer, and Sen. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) is undecided. Donnelly, Manchin, and Heitkamp were three of the 15 senators who crossed the aisle to vote for Pompeo's confirmation to lead the CIA over a year ago. The post Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly Will Vote to Confirm Pompeo appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *