U.S. Senator Marco Rubio criticized the Obama administration for cooperating with a Hollywood moviemaker on a film about the top-secret Navy unit that killed Osama bin Laden, warning such actions could “impact the ability to carry out similar operations in the future.”
It was “wrong” and “part of a troubling trend of chest-thumping” on the part of the administration, Rubio said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend. The 40-year-old Florida Republican sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The Pentagon’s top intelligence official, Michael Vickers, met with Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow and divulged the name of the typically secret Navy commando unit known as SEAL Team Six, according to a transcript of the July 15 meeting released May 22 by Judicial Watch, a Washington-based legal organization. The meeting, sanctioned by the White House, came after then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates and then-Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen urged military officials to stop talking about the May 2, 2011 raid on bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.
In the interview, Rubio chastised Barack Obama on a number of issues and reiterated a charge that the president is more divisive than former Republican President Richard Nixon, who resigned under the threat of impeachment for his administration’s involvement in the Watergate break-in scandal.
On immigration, Rubio is crafting an alternative to a bill known as the DREAM Act that would grant a pathway to citizenship for military veterans and allow some students to stay and work legally on non-immigrant visas. A DREAM Act measure backed by Obama and most Democrats that would have given some students brought to the U.S. as children a path to citizenship was blocked by Republican congressional leaders.
Rubio’s provision differs from Romney, who has called for “self-deportation,” saying anyone residing illegally in the U.S. should first return to their home countries while applying for residency.
Rubio, a leading prospect for the Republican presidential ticket as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate, said the former Massachusetts governor is still reviewing details of the proposal.
Tea Party Favorite
Rubio, a Cuban-American and Tea Party movement favorite, said Romney could do better than 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain did with U.S. Latino voters, even though Romney has taken a tough immigration stance.
“He wants to modernize the legal immigration program in our country so that it works better not just for America, but for the immigrants,” Rubio said.
Four years ago, McCain captured 31 percent of the fast-growing Latino vote. The state of the U.S. economy will play in Romney’s favor with Hispanic voters, said Rubio.
“The president cannot make the argument to any Americans, much less Americans of Hispanic descent, that they’re better off today than they were three and a half years ago when he took over,” he said.
Earlier this month, the Obama campaign and its allies began airing commercials targeting Romney’s business record as a former executive at Bain Capital LLC, a Boston-based private-equity firm, portraying him as a corporate raider eager to put profits ahead of employees.
A spot released by Priorities USA Action, a super-political action committee backing Obama’s campaign, highlighted Bain’s investment in GST Steel, which cut jobs and filed for bankruptcy in 2001.
“Behind the ads isn’t just the performance of Bain Capital, but the insinuation that somehow Mitt Romney is a bad person who doesn’t care about the plight of these individuals,” said Rubio.
Instead of attacking Romney on issues like taxes and the economy, Obama “goes straight for the argument that his opponents are bad human beings, bad people that don’t care about the plight of other Americans,” said Rubio. “I think that’s deeply unfair.”
Comparing Obama with Nixon, Rubio said the current president “deliberately divides Americans against each other for purposes of political gain.” He concluded that “in terms of how he pits Americans against each other, yes” he is more divisive than President Nixon was.
As Rubio offered his critique of the Pentagon’s dealings with the bin Laden filmmaker, the Pentagon’s director of entertainment media, Philip Strub, said in an e-mail that officials “never received a script or any request for production support.”