A second staffer for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) disparaged American workers during an interview with Ryan Lizza, a partial transcript of the interview the New Yorker reporter released Monday afternoon shows.
Originally, it appeared as though only one anonymous Rubio “aide” disparaged American workers and only did so in the context of speaking about low-skilled jobs in the U.S. However, the Lizza interview transcript shows two aides referenced low-skilled and high-skilled American workers.
Lizza asked the two staffers to respond to this statement: “Well their argument is, what, that they have American workers for these jobs, they don’t need this program.”
The thus-far unidentified “Rubio Aide 1” said that some workers either can’t or won’t make it in the work force anyway:
Yeah. I mean one of the problems you have with this, “Oh, there’s American workers who are unemployed.” There are American workers who, for lack of a better term, can’t cut it. There shouldn’t be a presumption that every American worker is a star performer. There are people who just can’t get it, can’t do it, don’t want to do it. And so you obviously can’t discuss that publicly because–
At that point, “Rubio Aide 2” interjected, “But the same is true for high-skilled workers.”
“Aide 1” then said, “Yes, and the same is true across every sector, in government, in everything.”
Lizza’s story had originally not specified that two Rubio aides made the argument, leaving a little room for Rubio’s staff to try to discredit the reporting.
As excerpted by Politico’s Mike Allen Sunday morning, Lizza’s story reported the exchange as follows:
Rubio sided with the Chamber against the construction workers. “There are American workers who, for lack of a better term, can’t cut it,” a Rubio aide told me. “There shouldn’t be a presumption that every American worker is a star performer. There are people who just can’t get it, can’t do it, don’t want to do it. And so you can’t obviously discuss that publicly.” In the end, the wage issue was settled to the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s satisfaction, and the Building and Construction Trades union won a cap on the number of visas for foreign construction workers.
After National Review editor Rich Lowry picked up on how Rubio’s anonymous “aide” disparaged American workers, and published a piece on it, Rubio spokesman Alex Conant tried to argue Lizza’s reporting was inaccurate.
“We strongly objected to the magazine including that background quote in the piece because it’s not what Sen. Rubio believes or has ever argued,” Conant told Lowry. “In truth, Sen. Rubio has always said the reason we need a robust temporary worker program is to create legal avenues for US businesses to meet labor needs when not enough Americans apply for jobs… Sen. Rubio believes that American workers can compete against anyone in the world.”
Sen. Rubio himself gave a quote to The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis publicly rejecting the comments. “The quote attributed to a member of my staff was a description of one argument used against big labor’s opposition to a guest worker program,” Rubio told Lewis. “It is not my view in any way. I could not disagree with it more.”
The transcript Lizza released casts doubt on whether the quote was simply “a description of one argument used against big labor’s opposition to a guest worker program.” Rather, it indicates the quotes were two Rubio staffers making the argument on their own, not in an abstract context. The transcript also shows that the two Rubio aides were talking about high-skilled and low-skilled American workers, not just those who would be part of a guest worker program.
After Lewis’s piece was published, Breitbart News reported that several immigration organization leaders and hill staffers have called on Sen. Rubio to publicly identify the aide who made those comments. NumbersUSA director of government relations Rosemary Jenks and Center for Immigration Studies executive director Mark Krikorian, as well as various hill staffers, called on Rubio to publicly identify the aide and terminate him or her.
On Twitter, National Review‘s Lowry asked Lizza, “i have no reason to doubt you but can you share any more of the context of that quote? rubio staff pushing bk hard.” He added that Rubio’s office’s pushback included Conant saying “the aide was describing some industries’ response to unions’ opposition to temp workers.”
When Lizza sent out the partial transcript of the interview, Lowry responded, “great, thank you. looks like you were exactly right unless im missing something.”