Sen. Marco Rubio called for a return to “commonsense conservatism,” telling Fox News the Republican Party has an “enormous opening and opportunity” to shift its messaging closer to a pro-worker agenda, as those voters who traditionally gravitated toward Democrats have become turned off by the left’s “woke” rhetoric. 

In an interview with Fox News, Rubio, R-Fla., discussed private union workers, who, in the past, have followed union leadership in supporting Democratic candidates. 


“These are people that see what’s going on in America, from a cultural and societal standpoint, and think the left is crazy,” Rubio told Fox News, calling for a new “political movement that stands on behalf of common sense and individual liberty and defense of traditional values.” 

“Union leaders are elected by their members,” Rubio continued. “And if their members support a political movement, the leaders will follow that.” 

“I think there is an enormous opening and opportunity for the Republican Party because the Democratic Party has abandoned those principles for the woke left,” Rubio said. 

Rubio said that union workers have “become more supportive” and “more open” to Republican candidates, telling Fox News that former President Trump “deserves a lot of credit, because he was able to challenge a lot of the established market fundamentalist ideology that had become orthodox within the GOP, showing that you can be 100% pro-capitalism, but also understand the importance of workers.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio speaks during the Road to Majority convention at Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee, Fla., on Friday, June 18, 2021. 

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio speaks during the Road to Majority convention at Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee, Fla., on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/AP)

“In my view, this is a return to commonsense conservatism, which is what the party has been about, before it became market fundamentalism,” Rubio said, pointing to former President Ronald Reagan’s work in fighting for pro-American policies to help American workers. 

In recent weeks Rubio has been praised by a number of Florida-based unions, following his vote earlier this month to protect the prevailing wage requirement, commonly known as Davis-Bacon, in the CHIPS Act funding. The Davis Bacon Act of 1931 is a federal law that requires all on-site employees to be paid fair wages, benefits and overtime, also known as the “prevailing wage,” weekly, while working on government-funded construction, alteration or repair projects. 

The provision is typically pro-union, often rejected by Republicans and favored by Democrats. 

“Good, dignified work is critical to the success of the country,” Rubio said after taking the vote. “As we invest tens of billions of dollars into critical industries through large, publicly traded companies, it is only right that we require that those funds also invest in the men and women who will build and maintain these cutting edge facilities.” 

He added: “Ensuring these Americans receive a prevailing wage for this work — work that is critically important to the future of our nation — is common sense.” 

Rubio told Fox News that vote was not necessarily in support of unions, but instead “in support of American workers.” 

“I don’t think any society would succeed unless it is one that provides good work and good pay for millions of its people,” Rubio said, noting that “good work is what makes possible strong families and strong communities.” 

Rubio, though, acknowledged that that vote is “different from what I would have voted for in years past.” 


“Capitalism is the single greatest engine of prosperity in human history, and the market is far superior than government control,” Rubio said. “But policy makers have an obligation to step forward…we have an obligation to the national interest to step forward when the outcome is not good for America.” 

Rubio said, for example, that the market will “generally reach the right outcome,” but said that policy makers need to step in when the outcome is “not in the national interest.” 

“It is more efficient to make things in China because it is cheaper, but it is not in our interest to depend on China,” Rubio said. 

Rubio called a shift in the Republican Party toward a pro-worker agenda a “work in progress,” noting that “many of my colleagues are still operating under the pure market fundamental concept that many of us generally believe in and have for a very long time.” 

“I think more Republicans will [shift their stance] — especially those running for office,” Rubio said. “You’re running in the 21st century as a Republican — it is hard to ignore the energy the party picked up from new voters and people who didn’t vote Republican before Trump in 2016 and 2020, so I think you’re going to see more Republicans favorable to this view.” 

Meanwhile, Rubio, who ran for president in 2016, left the door open for a potential 2024 White House bid, but said his focus is on his work in the Senate. 


“What I’ve learned over the last few years, is sometimes you’re so busy thinking about three years ahead, that you overlook what is three days ahead and three months ahead,” Rubio said. “I have work to do and I want to continue to serve in the Senate.” 

“As we get closer to 2024, I’ll assess where I am in my personal life, with my family, the world, the party, the country, and make a decision on where the best place for me to serve is,” Rubio continued. 

Rubio added: “As a senator, I can accomplish and help accomplish a lot of things important to the future of America.” 

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