GOP Sen. Marco Rubio defended former President Donald Trump’s controversial remark that he would encourage Russia to do “regardless of the hell they need” to a NATO member nation that didn’t meet protection spending tips.
“That’s not what occurred, and that’s not how I view that assertion,” the Florida Republican argued Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union when requested whether or not he was snug with Trump’s suggestion that he wouldn’t defend NATO international locations.
Rubio went on to notice that the US didn’t go away NATO throughout Trump’s presidency — although Trump made non-public threats about withdrawing a number of occasions, in accordance with The New York Instances.
“Donald Trump just isn’t a member of the Council on Overseas Relations,” Rubio advised CNN’s Jake Tapper. “He doesn’t speak like a standard politician, and we’ve already been via this. You’ll suppose folks would’ve figured it out by now.”
At Saturday’s rally in Conway, North Carolina, Trump mentioned “one of many presidents of an enormous nation” at one level requested him whether or not the US would nonetheless defend the nation in the event that they have been invaded by Russia even when they “don’t pay.”
“No, I’d not shield you,” Trump recalled telling that president. “The truth is, I’d encourage them to do regardless of the hell they need. You bought to pay. You bought to pay your payments.”
Trump has for years inaccurately described how NATO funding works. NATO has a goal that every member nation spends a minimal of two% of gross home product on protection, and most international locations aren’t assembly that focus on. However the determine is a tenet and never a binding contract, and it doesn’t create “payments”; member international locations haven’t been failing to pay their share of NATO’s frequent funds to run the group.
Rubio, who not too long ago pushed via laws that will require an act of Congress earlier than a US commander in chief might withdraw the nation from NATO, contended Trump was merely reflecting on an anecdote from his presidency. He added that “just about each American president” has aired grievances about different nations not doing sufficient for the alliance.
“Trump’s simply the primary one to specific it in these phrases,” mentioned Rubio, who’s vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Rubio additionally responded to Trump’s derisive feedback concerning the absence of GOP contender Nikki Haley’s husband, Michael, who’s deployed abroad. Rubio characterised the remarks as a product of the “growing nastiness of this marketing campaign and each marketing campaign in American politics.”
“I imply, they’re calling him a grumpy outdated man. They’re attacking Donald Trump,” Rubio mentioned. “So this type of nastiness, Trump provides nearly as good as he will get.”
Reminded by Tapper that he had as soon as mentioned Trump’s remarks concerning the late Sen. John McCain — whom Trump referred to as “not a warfare hero” — disqualified him from being commander in chief, Rubio responded, “Sure, I used to be operating for president in opposition to Donald Trump.”
Rubio has endorsed the previous president in his bid to regain the White Home, writing on X final month that “it’s time to get on with the work of beating Biden & saving America!”
The endorsement marked a stark departure from Rubio’s posture in 2016, when he advised CNN that “for years to come back, there are numerous folks on the precise, within the media and voters at giant which might be going to need to justify how they fell into this entice.”
CNN’s Serena Golden and Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.