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Rubio denies GOP paid personal expenses

Marco Rubio, appearing this morning on Face the Nation, brushed off questions about his use of a Republican Party of Florida credit card as a distraction from critics who "are wrong on the ideas."

Rubio flatly said, "The Republican Party of Florida has never paid for my personal expenses."

That's a nuanced response. In fact, Rubio routinely charged personal items on the American Express, from groceries to family reunion arrangements. But Rubio said he paid American Express. Only partial record of his spending is public; Rubio has declined to release those before November 2006, saying that is a party matter.

He adroitly addressed the debt issue, pointing out he has mortgages and student loans. "The vast majority of Americans watching this program would be shocked to learn that buying a home with a mortgage is somewhat irresponsible," he said, adding his parents were not wealthy enough to pay for his law school education so he took out loans.

On Social Security, Rubio said he did not feel it should be privatized but said it faces "some longtime challenges that need to be confronted. He suggested the retirement age could be increased and indexes adjusted in an effort to shore up the program. "Younger workers like myself, people 39 years of age like I am, we're going to have to accept that there's going to be some changes to Social Security."

On illegal immigration, he said Arizona's tough new law was borne out of frustration and he put the blame on federal inaction. "I've continued to say the Arizona law should not be a model for the rest of the country, it should be a wakeup call to the federal government to once and for all take the issue of immigration seriously." (Of course, Congress did attempt a plan a few years ago but it fell apart due to partisan differences.)

Rubio was portrayed by the show as a tea party candidate, though he did not claim that title when asked. Rubio said the tea party is an "expression" of the desire to fix what is wrong with government.