Marco Rubio chats about immigration reform, climate change and Biggie at inaugural “Buzzfeed Brews”

Despite being surrounded by political journalists, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) appeared calm, cool and collected as he chatted with Buzzfeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith Tuesday night and the popular online publication’s inaugural “BuzzFeed Brews” event in Washington, D.C.

Whether he was discussing immigration reform, women in combat, climate change or his taste in music the freshman Senator and oft talked about 2016 presidential candidate seemed right at home in front of the rowdy crowd at the Bar 201 event, which took place just a stone’s throw away from his home away from home in the Hart Senate Office Building.

During the ‘Brew,’ Rubio championed moving toward a republic with a smaller federal government and a free economy, suggesting that the government needs to move toward a place where it acts as a safety net to catch people who have fallen on hard times more than a harness keeping people from losing their balance the tight rope.

“I think the problem we get into is when we believe there’s a government answer to every problem, or when we overestimate government’s ability to grow the economy and create opportunity for prosperity,” he said. “This is not about balancing the budget by denying people the government services they need. It’s about growing our economy, so people need less government services.”

Smith and Rubio discussed a wide number of topics, but they spent a significant amount of time talking about immigration reform, which Rubio is attempting to champion along with other members of the so-called “Gang of Eight,” an bipartisan group of Senators, four Democrats and four Republicans.

Like fellow ‘Group of Eight’ member John McCain (R-Ariz.), Rubio was adamant that the new laws should not concern coverage for LGBT partners.

“This issue’s so complicated. The immigration issue has so many landmines and pitfalls,” Rubio said. “I think if that issue becomes a central issue in the debate, it’s just going to make it harder to get it done.”

The conservative Republican said the issue has negative connotations for states rights. “I’ve always been uncomfortable with a federal constitutional amendment on anything, particular on [gay marriage].”

Smith also put the freshman Senator on the spot with another issue of the moment: women in combat.

“I think the bottom line is that we have to have our best people,” Rubio said. “If that person happens to be a woman, then I don’t have a problem with it.”

The Florida Senator also talked about global warming, noting that he has seen cost-benefit analysis that would impose “devastating” economic impacts to the country if the federal government enacts the bulk of the legislation Democrats are proposing. He also pointed out that China and India, not the U.S., are the “largest polluters in the world by far,” and thus, changes to U.S. regulations wouldn’t solve many of the problems environmentalists are concerned about.

“The changing climate is not the fundamental question,” Rubio added. “The fundamental question is whether man-made activity is contributing to it.”

The interview wasn’t all work and no play for conservative superstar, though. He and Smith also discussed his musical interests (don’t look for Biggie Smalls tunes on his Spotify account – he’s not a fan), with Rubio confirming that he does like Eminem. Rubio said he likes Tupac, too.

“I think Tupac’s lyrics were more insightful,” he said. “In some ways, rappers are like reporters… so the ’90s was a time when this was really pronounced. You had gang wars, racial tension, and they were reporting on that.”

The Florida Senator will be “rollin’ with [his] homies” in the coming weeks as the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform proposal hits the Senate floor.  He will also be giving the Republican address to the State of the Union. Whether or not he’ll ride the wave all the way to first-in-the-nation-state in 2016, though, is still up in the air.

“I really believe that if I do the best job I can in the Senate, then, in a couple of years, I’ll be in a position to make a decision about whether I want to run for reelection, leave politics and give someone else a shot, or run for some other position,” Rubio said.

Francesca Chambers contributed to this report.

Comments

Polititainment

Obama channels Chris Rock again

At rallies for Democrats in Maryland and Illinois on Sunday, Obama dropped the name "Cousin Pookie" -- a character that he used frequently to energize black voters during his 2008 campaign -- during his speeches.

Oliver beats Supreme Court's camera ban
Comedian John Oliver is sick of the Supreme Court ban on cameras in the court room and the ridiculous ways it makes television news stations have to cover those cases. But all hope is not lost. “What happens at the Supreme Court is way too important not to pay attention to and yet the ban […]
Stewart and Colbert go after 'Fangate'

Both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert had a field day with “Fangate” Thursday night.

O'Reilly v Stewart on 'white privilege'

Jon Stewart had one goal in bringing Bill O’Reilly on his show Tuesday evening: "I want you to admit that there is such a thing as white privilege."

Galifianakis gives Obama a nickname
Zach Galifianakis once came up with a very special nickname for President Obama, he recounted on “The Daily Show” Tuesday night. It all started when Galifianakis came to the White House to film the Emmy-winning “Between Two Ferns” episode to promote Obamacare. “Before we went to interview the president, I ate in the White House […]

White House

Obama delivers devastating blow to red state Democrats, calls them ‘all folks who vote with me’
President Obama can’t seem to stay out of the 2014 midterm elections, no matter how much his fellow Democrats want him to. Obama spoke on Al Sharpton’s radio show Monday, which was later replayed on MSNBC, insisting that red state Democrats are still his “strong allies.” “A lot of the states that are contested this time […]
Obama reveals his favorite Supreme Court decision

President Obama dished on his favorite Supreme Court decision during his presidency, and it wasn’t either of his interviewer’s top guesses.

Poll: Obama less ‘effective’ at ‘managing basic functions’ of government than George W. Bush
Since his popularity and approval ratings began to slide during his second term, former President George W. Bush has served as a scapegoat for Democrats and current President Obama. Bush’s name has been invoked with almost every negative event that has come America’s way. But it seems that the “blame Bush” strategy hasn’t made the […]
Obama names Ron Klain the Ebola ‘czar’ as precautions expand

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama turned to a trusted adviser to lead the nation's Ebola response on Friday as efforts to clamp down on any possible route of infection from three Texas cases expanded, reaching a cruise ship at sea and multiple airline flights.

Barack Obama’s credit card gets declined, leaving Michelle with the bill

Even being the president of the United States does not save you from everyone’s nightmare: the shame of having your credit card declined in public.

Congress

Udall struggles to think of his favorite books

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) seemed a bit rattled in his recent interview with ABC 7 News.

Rand Paul: W.H. hasn’t accurately described Ebola
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told Bloomberg politics he believes that the White House has been inaccurately depicting the risks of contracting Ebola. “I think from the very beginning they haven’t been completely forthright with us,” said Paul. “They’ve so wanted to downplay this that they really I don’t think have been very accurate in their […]
Rand Paul doesn't want to 'turnip for what'
Sorry Michelle. It doesn’t look like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wants to “turnip for what.” Paul let the first lady know about his first stop in New Hampshire Thursday on Twitter. The likely presidential hopeful went from the plane to the Dunkin’ Donuts and snapped a photo. Just arrived in Manchester, New Hampshire. First stop: @DunkinDonuts cc: […]
Americans could face $15B in new internet taxes
If Senate Democrats don’t take up the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act before the end of the year, American internet users could be looking at nearly $15 billion in additional taxes, a new study found. The Internet Tax Freedom Act, passed during the 1990s, prevents state and local governments from taxing people for access to the […]
Rand Paul talks with NAACP in Ferguson
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) met with black leaders in Missouri Friday and urged them to use the “ballot box” not riots in the street to try and make a change. Paul headed to Ferguson, the location of another police shooting, for a 45-minute “listening session” with a group of 20 local black leaders, including pastors, local business […]