This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," March 29, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And tonight, it is a "Hannity" exclusive. He is a Tea Party favorite, a rising GOP star who has somehow managed to keep a lower profile since his last talked about election to the U.S. Senate last November.
Not that Marco Rubio has not been busy. He's just been focusing on issues important to his home state, the Sunshine State, Florida.
Now, the second youngest U.S. Senator is opening up about what he says is the greatest challenge facing our generation today.
And joining me now for his first live national TV interview since being elected, the man himself, Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Senator, welcome back. It's such a pleasure to have you back, thank you.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.: I'm glad to be back.
HANNITY: All right. So, I interviewed you on the radio a while ago. And I predicted that one day you will be president. And the response was overwhelming. And -- meaning from the audience, they really would like to see that. But you're saying not this time around?
RUBIO: Well, first of all, I'm very flattered by that, and by their response. The reality of it is I have a pretty important job right now, you know, being in the United States Senate is an important job and it needs to be done well. And that's what I'm focused on because that's what I ran for. I mean, I ran because I wanted to have this opportunity to kind of get involved in some of these issues that we are facing, you've been talking about tonight and for weeks. And that I hope we get to talk about a little bit tonight.
HANNITY: Now, we are going to talk about it at length. But you would not rule out if candidate, would not rule out, somebody said you are not going to run, but if somebody said, Senator Rubio would you consider running with me, you will not rule that out?
RUBIO: As vice president, no. I'm not going to be the vice presidential nominee, I'm focused on this. And it is important that I have that attitude too because otherwise, I won't be able to do this job well. You know, I really believe, and I've learned this in time from being involved before that. If you know focused on anything other than your job, you are not going to do your job well, and the job I have is an important one, the United States Senate job -- Florida deserves to have a full time senator and that's what I want to be.
HANNITY: Senator, I was very impressed when you wrote a piece, it's called, "It is not too late to save America." You said you will not go along anymore continuing resolutions. America borrows $4 billion a day. We have a $14 trillion debt, explain.
RUBIO: Well, it is not difficult to understand, this is the greatest country that has ever existed. It was built through hard work, some difficult choice that the people that were here before has made. And as great as the last 100 years were for America, the next 100 years can truly be better. Now, the American people haven't forgotten how to create jobs. The people of our country are the same people that built this extraordinary nation. The only thing standing in their way are government policies. Government policies like runaway regulations and unpredictable and high taxes that discourage job creation.
You know, these regulatory agencies that are tormenting job creators across America. And a government that spends more money than it takes in, continually spends money that it doesn't have, borrowing $4 billion a day, half of it from foreigners. Most of that from the Chinese. We cannot continue on this road. And we are -- yes, we can continue to be the greatest country in the history of the world. But there are some things we have to deal with. And we are running out of time to deal with them.
HANNITY: You said that America now is at risk, that our children will inherent a country for the first time worse off than the one their parents were given. And you say you will not vote to increase the debt limit unless certain things happen. What are they?
RUBIO: Well, first of all. It's got to be the last time we ever do it. Number two, there has to be meaningful tax reform. Number three, there has to be meaningful regulatory reform. We can't continue to allow these regulatory agencies to torment job creators. Number four, we need a balanced budget amendment. Number five, we need spending caps. Number six, we need to use the debt limit itself as the way to ensure that America's debt limit begins to decline, not always go up. How about the debt limit starting to go down? These are the kinds of things that I hope we'll focus on.
Now, here's what the critics are going to say, we don't have enough time to do all of that. That's not true. These ideas have been around for a long time. Everybody here knows exactly what needs to be done. The problem is, they don't want to do it. They want to either use it to win their next election, I think you talked about it in your earlier segment, they want to use all this debt stuff as a political tool to win elections. They are more interested in winning their next campaign, even it means losing the essence of their country. I think that is shameful.
HANNITY: What do you make, is there really -- what have you learned in the short time now that you have been in Washington, you've got this good old boy network, Harry Reid says, no way I'm not going to support Social Security reform. Democrats still have the majority in the body in which you work. So, what have you learned in the short time you have been there? And how do you break that institutional hold they have?
RUBIO: Well, let's remind everybody that the reason we are still talking about the 2011 budget is because folks around this place, House, Senate and White House, the Democrat Party didn't pass a budget last year. That's why we're still talking about 2011. And in fact, the Senate Democrats still haven't passed a budget even to this very moment, they still haven't dealt with it. But I think there are really three camps. There's a group of people that really want to make a difference. There's a group that want to make a difference but are afraid to step out because it will be used against them. There's a third group of people that are hoping that we step out, so they can use it against us or try to use it against us.
You just talked about Social Security and Medicare, I want those programs to survive. My mom is on Social Security and Medicare. I want these programs to exist when I retire. I don't want to see any changes for current beneficiaries. But if we don't do anything, these programs aren't even going to exist before long and they're going to begin to see benefit reductions because they start running out of money, we have to save these programs by reforming these programs. And the reforms should not be on the shoulders of current beneficiaries or retirees. It should be on people in my generation, decades away from retirement. It is up to us to deal with this in our lifetime.
HANNITY: You are really drawing a line in the sand with these stands that you are taking here. So, obviously, when you make such a strong commitment, you have to stand by it or people will say, well, you didn't have the courage of your convictions. Where did these values come from? Because I got to know you a bit during your campaign and I was very impressed with your background and your story, your family background. Where did this -- because you are so passionate about it. Where did these values come from in your life?
RUBIO: Well, I mean, it really comes from my upbringing. A small story I shared over this last week, a small story about my upbringing. My parents -- my dad passed away in September, but my mom, in particular, I've been able to talk to her recently a lot about this country and what it meant when they came here. And asked her what was the most -- the thing that struck you the most? And one thing she told me it was the first time in her life that she had ever met anyone who owned or ran something that they didn't inherit.
Where she came from in Cuba, almost everybody who owned land or owned a business that was what their parents had and left for them. This is the first time that she actually met people that they told her, no, we started from nothing, but we worked hard and we're able to accomplish this.
For the first time she actually felt, so did my dad, that they would have a chance to fulfill their dreams and more importantly that their kids would. That's unique about America. That's the product of the difficult decisions that the people who were here before us made.
I'm afraid we are going to lose that if we continue on the road we're on right now. I'm not afraid we're going to lose that. I know that we will. That doesn't have to happen. There's an alternative here, but we have to get to work on it now.
HANNITY: Do you fear if Barack Obama would be reelected that we would continue down that wrong road? The title of your article was "It's Not Too Late to Save America." If he got a second term, would it be too late?
RUBIO: Yes, if we continue with the policies of this president and the leadership and Senate have pursued over the last couple of years, if we continue on the road we are on right now, this country will be a very different place four years from now.
HANNITY: All right, Senator Rubio, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate your time.
RUBIO: Thank you.