Rubio to Apple: National security trumps your brand

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Presidential candidate Marco RubioMarco RubioPoll: Rubio holds massive lead in primary Rubio: Turkey attack 'directed' by ISIS Trump: Rivals who don't back me shouldn't be allowed to run for office MORE on Thursday night sided with the FBI in its fight to get Apple to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, joining the rest of the GOP field.

“Apple doesn’t want to do it because they think it hurts their brand,” Rubio said during the Republican presidential debate. “Well, let me tell you, their brand is not superior to the national security of the United States of America.”

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During the debate, Rubio was pressed on comments he made last week that initially seemed to favor Apple shortly after the company defied a court order to help the FBI hack into Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone. Farook and his wife killed 14 people in the San Bernardino, Calif., terrorist attack.

“Apple isn’t necessarily wrong here,” Rubio told CNN last week.

On Thursday, the White House hopeful clarified that his stance came before understanding that the FBI wasn’t asking Apple to create a “backdoor,” or an intentional entry point built into security systems.

“At the time, Apple was portraying that the court order was to create a backdoor to an encryption device,” he said during the debate.

Now, Rubio added, he is fully behind the FBI.

“The only thing [Apple is] being asked to do — and the FBI made this very clear about 48 hours ago — is allow us to disable the self-destruct mode that’s in the Apple phone so that we can try to guess using our own systems what the password of this killer was,” he said.

Still, Apple has argued that even building the software to disable the “self-destruct mode” — which goes into effect if an incorrect password is entered 10 times in a row — would create a backdoor that could be used to crack other phones.

The tech giant also insists that complying with the order would set a precedent that enabled law enforcement to ask for more invasiven access to secure devices.

The FBI has repeatedly countered that its request is “quite narrow” and is only focused on this one case.

Rubio backed the bureau’s argument Thursday night.

The FBI, Rubio said, is only making this request “on one phone in the entire world.”

With his remarks, Rubio joined the rest of his GOP presidential contenders, who have taken a more hard-line stance against Apple since it defied the court order last week.

“He was on both sides of the fence,” Cruz said Thursday night. “He’s now agreeing with me. And so I’m glad.”

"Apple doesn’t have a right to defy a valid court order in a terrorism investigation," he added.

Republican front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: 'I’m just flabbergasted’ by Clinton-Lynch meet Trump's new digital strategist quickly leaves campaign GOP megadonor compares Trump to Biblical figures MORE has even called for a boycott of Apple.

John Kasich used the dispute to bash President Obama.

“The problem is not right now between the administration and Apple,” he said, cutting in when the debate moderators tried to move to Trump. “You know what the problem is? Where’s the president been? You sit down in a back room and you sit down with the parties and you get this worked out. You don’t litigate this on the front page of The New York Times, where everybody in the world is reading about their dirty laundry out here.”