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Rubio builds on foreign policy credentials, calls Putin 'weak'

April 25, 2012|By Morgan Little
  • Sen. Marco Rubio waits to speak at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Marco Rubio waits to speak at the Brookings Institution in Washington,… (Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty…)

WASHINGTON – If Sen. Marco Rubio isn’t planning on being Mitt Romney’s choice for a running mate, he’s certainly jockeying to position himself for greater prominence on the national stage.

Delivering a speech at the Brookings Institution on Wednesday, Rubio stepped into the sphere of foreign policy. The senator from Florida declared at the start of his speech that “the easiest thing for me to do here today is give a speech on my disagreements with this administration on foreign policy,” and largely kept his jabs at President Obama limited to references to current policies, and focused his remarks on his own vision.

That vision, in which “what happens all over the world is our business,” is one that Rubio himself acknowledged is one that many in the public and in Washington are shying away from, as he noted bipartisan efforts to depart from Afghanistan and shaky public support for U.S. intervention in the Libyan civil war.

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Rubio responded to the question of why the U.S. feels an obligation to involve itself in all international matters with a hypothetical.

“I always begin my answer to that question with a question of my own. If we start doing less, who’s going to do more?” Rubio said. “For example, would a world order where China, at least as we know it right now, was the leading power be as benignly disposed to the political and economic aspirations of other nations as we are?”

Citing a need for strong allies for international endeavors, Rubio was hesitant to call for unilateral action by the U.S., contending that the prime role of the country should be to create and lead coalitions when other global entities leave a leadership void. That’s a view that sounds quite similar to Obama’s approach.

It’s the degree to which the Obama administration has injected the U.S. into the heart of international issues that Rubio questions.

“I disagree with the way in which the current administration has chosen to engage. For while there are few global problems we can solve by ourselves, there are virtually no global problems that can be solved without us,” he said.

Rubio’s harshest remarks, outside of the general theme of indictment aimed at the Obama administration’s policies, were saved for Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin.

“Putin might talk tough, but he knows he is weak,” Rubio said. “Everywhere he looks, he sees threats to his rule, real and imagined.”

Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse, on the other hand, dismissed Rubio’s remark as “revisionist history.”

“Under President Obama’s leadership, we have successfully confronted our enemies and strengthened our alliances to effectively meet the challenges we face overseas,” Woodhouse said, saying that Rubio’s speech was “coming from a man who’s using the opportunity of this speech to audition for another job.”

Rubio, who has at several points denied interest in the vice presidency, has nonetheless been at the center of the discussion on whom Romney will choose. His appearance on “State of the Union” on Sunday, along with a prominent campaign appearance with Romney in Pennsylvania earlier this week, have only emboldened those speculating that Rubio is on Romney’s short list.

morgan.little@latimes.com

Original source: Marco Rubio builds on foreign policy credentials, calls Putin 'weak'

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