U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio was in full-alarm mode Tuesday on the second day of a two-week swing around the state during the spring recess.
He warned that President Donald Trump's scheduled meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jung-un is potentially "dangerous and counter-productive." He warned of China's "unprecedented" and steady attempt at displacing the U.S. as the world economic power. He warned of overconfidence in the elections system. And he warned the National Rifle Association that if it doesn't focus its energy on reducing mass shootings, the Second Amendment could be at stake.
"I would argue today that perhaps the single, biggest threats to the Second Amendment are these mass shootings because if it weren't for mass shootings and gun crime you wouldn't see this outcry,'' Rubio said at a meeting with reporters at his Tallahassee office in the Florida state Capitol. "It's awakening the conscience of the country."
He called Trump's visit with Jung-un "counter-productive because it will be used just to give him a platform to look important,'' adding that he doesn't know "if the meeting is ever going to take place or not.
Rubio said he was "doubtful" that Jung-un was interested in denuclearization.
"I am very doubtful that he will ever surrender his nuclear weapons because, for him, that is his life insurance,'' Rubio said. "That is what keeps him in power. Because he is fearful of becoming [deposed Libyan leader Muammar] Gaddafi and fearful of becoming [executed Iraqi president] Saddam Hussein and he's a young man. He's got to figure out how to hold onto power for 50-60 years."
He said Jung-un benefits from the meeting more than Trump because the dictator "lured an American president' into a meeting and it helps him in his quest "to be accepted as a global power.
"These parameters have to be worked out in ahead of time so that when you're going there, you're going to sign an agreement not negotiate an agreement,'' he said. "So if that's not what's going to happen, I think it's a terrible idea."
He called Trump's Tweet announcing the meeting "a very mysterious announcement that came out of the blue."
Rubio's advice to the president: "If this is a deal to just meet with a guy under false pretense and there's not a pre-arranged outcome, I think not only is it a waste of your time it actually proves to be quite dangerous and counter-productive."
The Florida Republican saved his strongest warnings, however, for the global economic war underway between China and the U.S.
He said the biggest threat to the U.S. economy and its democratic system is the steady infiltration of Chinese companies into the U.S., where states and local governments are relying on Chinese firms to produce infrastructure and where companies and universities allow Chinese nationals to "embed themselves, even with classified standing, into corporate entities that provide defense contracts and then deliver secrets."
"You cannot be a successful Chinese company until you are willing to do what the government asks of you when they ask it of you,'' Rubio said. "Even if they are just a component in the supply chain, the ability of them to embed in that chain technology that allows them to shut it off or capture information is extraordinary."
He said his frustration was the failure of the U.S. to focus on the threat.
"We've got a big problem on our hands, particularly as we move into revolutions in artificial intelligence and quantum computing,'' he said. "Whoever wins that battle will win the 21st Century. It's the equivalent of the Brits winning the industrial revolution and America winning the technology revolution."
Rubio dismissed the criticism of him by the students at the March for Our Lives event last week, in which students accused him of selling out to the NRA, and wore $1.05 signs -- a number they said was derived by dividing the number of students enrolled in Florida’s schools by the amount of campaign contributions Rubio received from the National Rifle Association.
"I don't care. It doesn't matter. I'm a grown man and I can defend myself if I needed to,'' he said. "But more importantly, I'm focused on finding answers. I don't spend my day in the Twitter bubble. I have a job to do and I'm going to do it."
He said the Stop School Violence Act that passed Congress and was signed into law in less than a month had "strong, bi-partisan support" because it was achievable quickly. He noted that the 17 parents of the Parkland victims have diverse opinions about gun control, but they agreed on the proposal.
Rubio said he abandoned his initial proposal to raise the age limit for gun purchases because it wasn't possible to pass in the short time.
And he said he hopes to find bi-partisan support on the "red flag" bill that he and Nelson have sponsored that allows family members and others to notify law enforcement if they suspect someone who has access to guns is a threat to themselves and others. He said he does not know the NRA's position on it.
Rubio also said he was prepared to modify his opposition to ban on high capacity magazines, but he was not sure how to do it.
"I have traditionally not supported [a ban] on magazine capacity because I don't think they prevent shootings,'' he said. "What has allowed me to re-examine it is the reality that in Parkland, at some point in that shooting, whether it was a gun jam or reloading, the shooter had to stop and people got away."
Because of that, he said that he is prepared to reconsider his position.
"If I'm being intellectually honest, I have to look at it again,'' he said. "Frankly, I haven't figured out how to regulate it in a way that could also pass. Some people just want to ban them. I'm not sure that's the right answer."
He said he is looking at the idea but added, " I just don't have a proposal to bring to people that we can defend. I have to be able to explain to people in both sides of how we arrived that point."