MIAMI (CBS4) – CBS4 News’ Jim DeFede sat down with Rubio earlier this week for a rare, nearly hour long interview on a wide range of topics – from speculation that Mitt Romney will tap him to be his vice president, to his controversial stance on contraception, to his brief childhood stint as a Mormon.
“What do you remember about your time in the Mormon Church?” I asked.
“Well I was very young,” he said. “I don’t remember a lot other than the fact that my parents – especially my mom – really wanted to put us in a very wholesome environment.”
Rubio’s LDS experience was first leaked by his staff in February after they learned reporters digging into Rubio’s background had uncovered the secret. Rubio was planning on disclosing it himself this summer as part of his autobiography – An American Son.
“You identify as a Catholic, but you also attend an Evangelical Protestant church from time to time,” I noted. “It seems to me you’ve been going through a bit of a journey.”
“On the question of my religion, I’m a Roman Catholic,” he said. “I’ve been a Roman Catholic, baptized and confirmed, and we go to church on Sundays. And I enjoy my Catholic faith.”
“Having family member who are Mormon and the faith that you have now, there are some Christians who believe that Mormons are not Christians,” I said.
“Yeah, look I don’t get into that whole debate, I’m not a theologian,” he said, obviously uncomfortable. “I have a lot of respect for the Mormon Church; I have a lot of respect for members of the Mormon faith. They believe in Jesus Christ and they consider themselves Christians and I consider them Christians.”
Rubio was more emphatic when it came to saying he would not be the vice presidential nominee; declaring that even if Romney were to personally call him he would refuse.
“Yes, I would say no,” Rubio offered.
“Do you feel you’re not qualified right now to be vice president?”
“It’s not about qualifications at the end of the day,” he said. “The most important thing a president does is make decisions. You’re fed information and you have to decide: Is this the right choice or the wrong choice? And based on what I know in the year I’ve been there, I think I can make good decisions.”
Republicans tout Rubio because are desperate to win back Hispanic voters. Polls show Romney receiving only 14 percent of the Latino vote in the Fall — a number so ridiculously low it would guarantee his defeat.
The DREAM Act is a big part of the problem. Both Romney and Rubio opposed the DREAM Act — which would allow children of illegal immigrants to stay in the country. Rubio says he is working on his own version of the law.
“I think this is an appeal on America’s conscience,” he said. “This is not a legal appeal/ This is a conscience based appeal.”
Rubio says he is still working on drafting the legislation. He said he’s not sure when it might be introduced.
You can see more of Jim DeFede’s exclusive interview with Senator Marco Rubio on “News and Views with Eliott Rodriguez” Sunday, April 15 at 11:30 a.m.