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Marco Rubio: Michael devastation a ‘total wipeout’

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said Sunday that he remains concerned about reaching rural communities with help days after Hurricane Michael struck the Panhandle.

On NBC’s Meet The Press, he characterized the damage from the storm as “a total wipeout.”

“It’s hard to imagine it ever being able to recapture the exact identity it once had,” Rubio told host Chuck Todd.

“It will be rebuilt. It’ll all be rebuilt at some point. But it’s going to take a long time.”

Rural counties remain the most isolated days after the hurricane made landfall.

“These counties took a devastating hit,” he said. “We are talking about poor people, many of them are older, miles from each other, isolated in many cases from roads.”

Rubio also discussed storm recovery with CNN host Jake Tapper on State of the Union.

There, the discussion turned to climate change, where Tapper asked what could be done to make sure storms don’t get worse for his or Rubio’s children.

“We’re going to have to do something about the impact on low-level coast areas,” Rubio told Tapper. “But I’m also not going to destroy our economy.”

He did acknowledge an impact on mankind of the environment.

“Scientists are saying that humanity and its behavior is contributing to that,” he said. “I can’t tell you what percentage of that is due to human activity.”

On CBS’s Face The Nation, he said the questions in Washington, D.C. about global warming haven’t been centered on denial.

“I don’t think the debate has been always about whether or not it’s human contribution. It’s about whether the public policies being advocated would be effective,” he said.

Saudi Arabia

Rubio on NBC also discussed increasing tension between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Saudi government has been accused of ordering Khashoggi’s death. The journalist, who had a column with The Washington Post, was last seen walking into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

“If he’s not alive, then it is the Saudis who would know what happened,” Rubio said.

But the senator held back on accusing the foreign government outright of involvement. He cast doubt on whether a recording of any murder occurred.

“I’m not prepared to pass judgment on something I don’t know for 100 percent certainty,” Rubio said.

But he promised Congress would act strongly if evidence comes out proving involvement.

“What I do find shocking is if in fact he was lured into a diplomatic facility, murdered, his body chopped up, and that they sent a group of people down there to carry this out, that would be an outrage,” Rubio said.

President Donald Trump told 60 Minutes that there would be consequences if that occurred, but hat he was unsure whether that included ending arms deals. Rubio seemed to side with Trump on that.

“Arms sales to Saudi Arabia are important not because of money but because he’s right when he says they’ll buy it from somebody else,” Rubio said.

“There are advantages to arms sales that have nothing to do with money.”

A U.S. response to Saudi Arabia still could include changes to arms deals, but could involve other acts as well, he said.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at

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