Sen. Marco Rubio Touts Upcoming Immigration Bill

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio hit the Sunday morning TV talk shows to promote, and preemptively defend, the bipartisan immigration overhaul that is expected to be released this week. Rubio appeared on seven nationally broadcast shows.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Here's a bit of Washington language: getting on all five of the Sunday morning TV political talk shows is known as the full Ginsburg, named for William H. Ginsburg, Monica Lewinsky's lawyer, who was the first to achieve this feat back in 1998.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now, many more have gone on to reach that mark: Among them, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton. Then comes yesterday: Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio topped them all. He appeared not only on all five English political shows, but on two political shows on the Spanish-language networks, as well.

INSKEEP: Think of it as the full Rubio. This Tea Party-backed conservative, who's widely seen as a presidential hopeful, has become the go-to guy in the Gang of Eight. That's the bipartisan group of senators who are unveiling legislation this week with a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants. NPR's David Welna reports on the day when the DVR was working overtime.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: In his string of TV appearances, Marco Rubio revealed few details about what's actually in the immigration proposal he's been working on. Instead, as was the case on CBS's "Face the Nation," Rubio's sales pitch was mainly for the overall bill.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FACE THE NATION")

SEN. MARCO RUBIO: It modernizes our legal immigration system, something we need to do, no matter what. It puts in place the toughest enforcement measures in the history of the United States, potentially in the world, and it once and for all deals with the issue of those that are here illegally, but does so in a way that's fair and compassionate, but does not encourage people to come illegally in the future and isn't unfair to the people that have done it the right way. And so that's why I'm optimistic that we can get the votes to get this passed.

WELNA: Still, most of the questions Rubio got were about just one aspect of the bill: the path to citizenship it offers those now in the country unlawfully. Rubio's response on NBC's "Meet the Press" was that those people could legally leave the country now and apply for a green card in 10 years.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MEET THE PRESS")

RUBIO: What we have done is created an alternative to that that forces you to wait more than 10 years, that forces you to pay an application fee, that forces you to pay a significant fine, that forces you not to qualify for any federal benefits of any kind, that forces you, tells you you have to work and be gainfully employed so that you're not a public charge. And ultimately, none of - even with all of that, you don't gain access to the green card process. You have to apply for it. It's not - you know, it's not awarded to you.

WELNA: And that's why the path to citizenship, Rubio said, is not amnesty. But fellow Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, of Alabama, told ABC's "This Week" he was not convinced.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THIS WEEK")

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS: I know Sen. Rubio's heart is exactly right, and I really respect the work of the Gang of Eight, but they have produced legislation - it appears, although it looks like now it may be another week before we see it - that will give amnesty now, legalize everyone that's here, effectively, today.

WELNA: The bill would actually give legal status to most undocumented immigrants six months after becoming law. Convincing skeptics that's a good thing will likely take far more than hitting the Sunday talk show circuit. David Welna, NPR News.

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