Rubio vows strong cyber defense

Rubio vows strong cyber defense
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Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioTrump moves forward with F-16 sale to Taiwan opposed by China The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move MORE (R-Fla.) is vowing a strong defense of international cyberspace if he is elected in 2016.

“As president, I will use American power to oppose any violations of international waters, airspace, cyberspace, or outer space,” Rubio said Wednesday during an address to the Council on Foreign Relations.

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The Florida senator also called for the permanent extension of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which the NSA has used to justify its bulk collection of phone records. 

“We cannot let politics cloud the importance of this issue,” Rubio said, just as the House was expected to approve reforms to the program. 

“We must never find ourselves looking back after a terrorist attack and saying we could have done more to save American lives.” 

The address gave Rubio a chance to lay out his views on foreign policy, and indicated that cybersecurity is, at least superficially, becoming a topic of discussion for 2016 candidates. 

Confrontations between the United States and its adversaries, including Russia and China, take place constantly online.

Lawmakers and political candidates are increasingly attuned to these dust-ups, as well as major cyberattacks on companies like Sony and Anthem, as matters relevant to U.S. foreign policy.

Rubio mentioned Russia, China and Iran on Wednesday, promising a “response from my administration” if those countries attempt to block global commerce.

“Gone will be the days of debating where a ship is flagged or whether it is our place to criticize territorial expansionism. In this century, businesses must have the freedom to operate around the world with confidence,” Rubio said. 

In a densely populated GOP presidential field, candidates like Rubio are eager to burnish their credentials on foreign policy. 

Threats from ISIS and the group’s sympathizers worldwide were a major topic for candidates at the South Carolina Freedom Summit over the weekend.

Rubio delivered an earnest, high-minded speech at the event, but failed to generate the enthusiasm of candidates such as rival Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP strategist predicts Biden will win nomination, cites fundraising strength 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters MORE (R-Texas).

This story was posted at 10:44 a.m. and updated at 3:46 p.m.