Has Marco Rubio abandoned his ‘nonpartisan’ foreign policy for 2012?

October 22, 2012

Yesterday, GOP decision-makers placed Sen. Marco Rubio, perhaps the party’s most prominent and popular member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on the Sunday talk shows of all three major networks in support of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney ahead of tonight’s presidential debate on foreign policy.


Rubio, who has often been critical of the Obama administration on numerous issues, has remained reserved when it comes to the place of the United States in the world, often saying that foreign policy should be a “nonpartisan issue.”

That is, until yesterday.

Throughout his three appearances, Rubio hit Obama on Libya, Iran and Cuba, in addition to several domestic issues. 

On CBS’ Face the Nation, Rubio told Bob Schieffer: “The current president, on the other hand, has a very different vision of the world,” Rubio said. “And part of the failure that this president has had is his failure to outline broad goals, real goals, a real view of what America’s role in the world should be.” 

“What’s most troubling about this is that one of the narratives the Obama campaign has put out is that Bin Laden is dead, they’ve bragged about this forever, and that Al Qaeda is in retreat and you start to wonder, did they basically say ‘do not allow any story to emerge that counters that narrative,’ ” Rubio said. 

Rubio suggested that election-year narrative trumped the Obama administration’s honesty in the case of Libya. 

“Is that why for two weeks they told us that the Libyan incident in Benghazi was a popular uprising and not a terrorist attack because it ran counter to their campaign narrative? I hope that that’s not true but it’s what you start to wonder about.”  

This is a much different tone from what Rubio has expressed in the recent past. 

In a public event at the Council on Foreign Relations in May, Rubio said he thought foreign policy should be a “nonpartisan issue” because “it strengthens our hands.” 

MODERATOR: I’d love to hear your impressions of [your recent trip to Guantanamo], and also to segue a little bit, obviously one of the — one of the issues in the presidential campaign is Obama on foreign policy and people — and a lot of voters are realizing, wow, this guy has, you know, kind of outdone George Bush on drone warfare and on legal issues. I mean, how will that play out in the campaign? Traditionally that’s a weakness for Democrats.

RUBIO: Yeah, I — well, look, I don’t — I don’t know about the second part, to be honest with you. I don’t know how people are thinking about those issues, and I haven’t done the political calculus. I don’t know if this is the right thing to say, but it happens to be true: To the extent I possibly I can, I always try to keep foreign policy a nonpartisan issue: A, because the alliances aren’t nearly as neat — I often find myself aligned with people that I don’t agree with anything else on, but on foreign policy, we do — B, because it strengthens our hand.

I don’t think it strengthens our hand in international relations when we’re quarreling over something and that’s — you know, obviously there’s times when we’re going to have to. But I think it strengthens us when we’re united or, at a minimum, are not injecting a partisan element into foreign relations.

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