Posted at 05:10 PM ET, 06/19/2012

In first Univision interview, Rubio defends immigration views, declines to call Obama ‘socialist’

Marco Rubio may no longer be in the veepstakes running, but the Florida senator – whose new book “An American Son: A Memoir” hits the shelves Tuesday -- is still making headlines.

In an interview with Spanish-language TV network Univision, Rubio spars with journalist Jorge Ramos on a range of topics including his views on immigration, his personal ambitions and whether or not President Obama is a “socialist.”

The interview, which was conducted in Spanish, is Rubio’s first with Univision. Rubio and the network previously butted heads over a 2011 story on the senator’s brother-in-law, who was convicted of drug trafficking when Rubio was 16.

According to an excerpt of the interview posted online Tuesday afternoon, Rubio declined to call Obama a “socialist.”

“Look, ‘socialist’ is a term that has been used before,” Rubio told Ramos. “It is a poisonous subject. I try not to use it because really, he’s no Hugo Chavez.”

Asked whether he hopes to become the country’s first Hispanic president, Rubio demurred.

“Well, that was not the book’s purpose, nor do I have that ambition in particular. ... I don’t believe there is any impediment for a Hispanic to become president of this great nation,” he said.

At times, the interview grew heated, particularly when Ramos stated that Rubio’s views on immigration issues are “to the right of most Hispanics.”

“Well, many on the left want to say that. ... First, that’s not a correct description of my positions,” Rubio responded. “I support the right of Arizona to make that law, but I don’t believe that the Arizona law should be a model for the country. ... I do want to help those young people who are here undocumented, and I’m strongly working to attain this. What I don’t support is the manner in which the DREAM Act does it. I do want to create a system of legal immigration that works.”

He pointed the finger at congressional Democrats, “who control this process and who do not consider other ideas that are not their own.” Democrats control the Senate, while Republicans control the House. Neither chamber has brought forth immigration legislation since the bipartisan DREAM Act failed the Senate in December 2010.

A full transcript of the interview is available here.

By  |  05:10 PM ET, 06/19/2012

 
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