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A website created by Florida progressives is attacking Sen. Marco Rubio's positions on women's rights, government spending, immigration, Social Security reform and more, pointing out apparent contradictions and allegedly unethical behavior.
WrongWayRubio.com, a joint project by Progress Florida and Florida Watch, also takes issue with his foreign policy, a particularly important focus for a potential Republican vice presidential nominee. The site provides terse commentary on several issues, allowing readers to tweet the statements -- and the website's source material for the claim -- through their own Twitter accounts.
One of these tweetable missives reads, "Rubio says troops are leaving decade-old war 'too fast'." It refers to Rubio's reaction to President Obama's military exit from Iraq last year.
Among many negative claims about the senator, that one caught our attention: What was Rubio's position on the end of the Iraq War?
WrongWayRubio.com provides links for each of its tweets, so the first thing we did is click the link. It sends readers to a clip of Rubio on Fox News' Studio B, discussing Obama's drawdown of armed forces from Iraq on Oct. 21, 2011. Obama announced that day U.S. forces would leave the country by the end of the year, which they did on Dec. 15.
Right away, there is a difference between what Rubio said and what WrongWayRubio.com implied. What we found didn’t seem to support the tweet’s claim.
"Here's my fear," Rubio told acting host Trace Gallagher, "my fear is that if the pull out happens too fast, Iran and their surrogates are going to come in there and take over and start exerting influence and creating havoc for us."
Rubio was speaking there in hypothetical and not declarative terms. That means we had to dig deeper to see where the senator really stood on the withdrawal.
Rubio has made foreign policy a major focus of his time in the Senate, and he’s been making major speeches on America's role in the world since last year.
He has focused primarily on United States policy in Latin America, Europe, and Central and East Asia. But he has used Iraq and the Middle East as examples of a region requiring stronger American involvement.
"It has been suggested that the advice of military commanders in Iraq be completely ignored in favor of a dramatic troop drawdown that even Iraqis say is too drastic," Rubio said in a speech in Wingate, N.C., on Sept. 13, 2011.
He chided some of his contemporaries as doing only what is "politically self-serving," and not in the best interests of the country. "America, and the entire world for that matter, needs resolute leadership in this era of historic but volatile transformation, particularly in the Middle East and particularly in Iraq."
Military involvement in foreign affairs has been a recurring theme in his speeches -- he mentioned the necessity of intervention in Egypt, Libya and Afghanistan, saying about the latter, "even the slightest impression that the U.S. is looking to get out is devastating."
We also found a more specific statement Rubio about Iraq. On Oct. 21, 2011 -- the same day as Rubio's Studio B appearance -- Rubio issued an official statement expressing disappointment in the drawdown Obama had just announced.
"I am disappointed that U.S. and Iraqi governments could not agree on a framework that would have allowed several thousand U.S. troops to stay in Iraq to combat Al Qaeda in Iraq and continue the training mission that is vital to Iraq’s future," he said in the statement. "I urge the Administration not to allow today’s announcement to become an obstacle to further negotiations on an enduring security relationship with Iraq. We should remain open to renewing discussions to bring back a robust U.S. force at the Iraqi government’s request that can do counterterrorism and support the Iraqi Security Forces."
That seems to be drawn-out politispeak saying, in essence, U.S. forces are leaving too soon.
The statement from WrongWayRubio.com reads, "Rubio says troops are leaving decade-old war 'too fast'." But the message offered a news story as evidence that doesn’t prove the point.
Still, when we looked more broadly at Rubio’s public statements on Iraq, we found the tweeted message did accurately summarize the views he had in September 2011. During a recent foreign policy speech, Rubio didn’t mention Iraq, but we found nothing to indicate Rubio has changed his mind.
Given Rubio's stated views -- that U.S. forces should remain in Iraq to provide stability -- we rate the statement True.
WrongWayRubio.com, tweet on Rubio and Iraq, accessed May 8, 2012
Email interviews with Rubio spokesperson Alex Conant, April 13 and 18, 2012
Sen. Marco Rubio press release, "Senator Rubio comments on president’s Afghanistan speech," Oct. 21, 2011
Fox News, Studio B, "Rubio fearful of U.S. vacating Iraq too quickly," Oct. 21, 2011
Sen. Marco Rubio press release, "Senator Rubio delivers remarks on America’s role in the world," Sept. 14, 2011
Sen. Marco Rubio press release, "In TV interviews, Senator Rubio outlines his views on America’s role in the world," Sept. 15, 2011
Transcript, Sen. Marco Rubio’s address on U.S. foreign policy, April 25, 2012
Roll Call, "GOP not giving Obama enough credit on Libya," Accessed in Nexis, Oct. 26, 2011
Orlando Sentinel, "Florida delegation debates US role in foreign conflicts," Accessed in Nexis, June 24, 2011
Pensacola News Journal, "Editorial: A long, costly quagmire," Accessed in Nexis, June 24, 2011
Miami Herald, "Florida on Obama's Afghanistan: From too fast to not enough," June 22, 2011
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