By BETSY KLEIN and MICHAEL CONTE
WASHINGTON — In a crowded Capitol Hill bar filled with well dressed twenty-somethings, Sen. Marco Rubio shared thoughts on immigration reform and climate change along with life lessons he learned from Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G. in a candid conversation at the inaugural BuzzFeed Brews event with host and BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith.
The junior senator from Florida spoke passionately on immigration, an issue that has become an important issue for the Republican Party following the 2012 election.
“What I think will honor our legacy as a nation, is if we can do something that respects the rule of law, but also treats these people in a humane and respectful way,” Rubio said.
On the topic of global warming, Rubio voiced concern that tackling the issue would harm the economy.
“Anything that we would do on [climate change] would have a real impact on our economy, but probably, if it was only us [the United States] doing it, a very negligible impact on the environment,” he said.
Rubio voiced his support for reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.
“Who’s for violence against women?” Rubio quipped. He noted that he opposed the amendment that he said diverted spending for domestic violence prevention from state programs.
When asked about whether he planned a 2016 run for president, Rubio neither confirmed nor denied his intentions.
“Running for president is not a decision, it’s a process,” Rubio said. “You only get that big plane in the end, at the beginning, you have to rent a car in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, you’re meeting the same 10 people over and over again who are still undecided.
“I really believe that if I do the best job that I can in the Senate, in a couple 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,” he said.
Smith noted that Rubio coaches the football team of his son, Anthony, 7. When asked whether he thought Congress would take measures to make football safer, Rubio quipped, “The idea that Congress, who can’t even pass a budget, is somehow going to solve concussions in the NFL is, you know, doubtful at best.”
Rubio even discussed his musical leanings, and showed off his diverse knowledge of ’90s rap music.
“I think Tupac’s lyrics were more insightful, my opinion, with all apologies to the Biggie fans,” he said. “In some ways, rappers are like reporters. In particular at that time, from the West Coast, it was a lot of reporting about what life was like … so the ’90s was a time when this was really pronounced. You had gang wars, racial tension, and they were reporting on that.”
The young conservative wrapped up, his beer still untouched, talking broadly about his vision for the Republican Party.
“Ultimately,” he said, “The real answer is to convince people that what we stand for, that free enterprise and limited government is the best way to create the conditions for their dreams to be possible.”