Asked to name a senator he'd like to pattern his own career after, Marco Rubio told the National Review
that he really admires Jesse Helms. Yes, Helms, the late North Carolina Republican senator with notorious and well-documented racist and homophobic views. He once called the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 "the single most dangerous piece of legislation ever introduced in the Congress." But Rubio admires only his foreign policy views. Oh, brother. What's next? He'll say he really admires the economic policies of pro-segregationist Strom Thurmond?
Helms once held a 16-day filibuster to try to block the establishment of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday. He's the guy who ran one of the ugliest racially charged campaign ads
in American history while seeking re-election in 1990. The ad implied that African-Americans would take white people's jobs. He repeatedly tried to block black judges from being confirmed. And he tried to block laws that expanded African-Americans' rights to vote.
Oh, and let's not even get started on his views about homosexuality. He dissaproved strongly of any federal funding to fight HIV because he thought the virus was punishment for homosexual behavior. When Ryan White, a boy who contracted HIV through a blood transfusion, visited the Senate, Helms refused to acknowledge him even as the two shared an elevator.
Helms, however, was known for his strong anti-Castro beliefs, which is maybe why Rubio holds him in such high regard.
Sen. Marco Rubio sailed into office on the tea-party wave, wagging his finger at the Obama administration's fiscal mischief. But in the Senate, foreign policy has become his passion.
Rubio, in an interview with National Review Online, says that the late senator Jesse Helms, the firebrand conservative from North Carolina, is his model.
"Politicians are not heroes," Rubio says. "But if you look at Jesse Helms, he had a tremendous amount of influence in this place."
Rubio respects how Helms fought hard as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, punching back at the princes of liberalism. Over five terms, he notes, Helms became a leading hawk.
Helms's racist views influenced his foreign policy as well. He chaired the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, a committee on which Rubio now sits. Helms supported apartheid in South Africa. He was also notorious for his avid support of numerous right-wing dictators throughout South and Central America, including Chile's Augusto Pinochet.