I won't let climate laws ruin US economy: Rubio

Marco Rubio
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Laws designed to combat climate change won't do anything but hurt economic growth, said Sen. Marco Rubio—seen as a likely GOP presidential candidate.

In a CNBC interview Wednesday, the Florida Republican sought to further clarify his position on the politically charged issue of climate change.

While acknowledging the climate is changing, he said: "I do not think these laws are going to do anything about it. And I'm not going to help destroy the American economy."

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In recent days, Rubio has been walking back his weekend comments about "human activity … [not] causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it."

The first-term senator was peppered with climate change questions Tuesday at the National Press Club, where he announced plans to give more workers a way to save for retirement.

Revamping retirement savings

Rubio reveals retirement plan
Rubio reveals retirement plan

Rubio to more Americans the federal Thrift Savings Plan currently offered to federal employees and members of Congress. It allows workers to make tax-free contributions, similar to a 401(k) plan.

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"If you work somewhere that doesn't offer a 401(k) or some other pretax capability to save money, you'll be able to buy into the exact same system that I as a member of Congress have access to," Rubio explained on "Squawk Box" Wednesday.

He also proposed an increase in the retirement age, while lowering taxes for seniors who continue to work.

"I think most people expect to work beyond 65, not because they have to but because they'll want to," he told CNBC. "I think that's going to be the nature of the future economy. You're already seeing it now."

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Asked about his 2016 presidential aspirations, Rubio said he'll know at "the end of this year or early next year" whether he's going to seek the Republican nomination for the White House.

"My senate term is [then] up as well," he continued. "So I'll have to make a decision if I want to stay here in the U.S. Senate and continue to make a difference or run for another spot."

Rubio takes Hillary Clinton to task

Rubio: Obama's foreign policy a 'failure'
Rubio: Obama's foreign policy a 'failure'

In what sounded like a preview of the presidential race, Rubio was also critical of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who many believe will run as a Democratic candidate for president.

"I think the foreign policy of this administration has been a failure because it was premised on a failed notion that … if the United States stepped back from the world [stage] that other countries would fill that void in a positive way," he said. "And that's not been the result."

Rubio also took the former senator from New York to task over the deadly Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya. He described the congressional hearings into the matter as a fact-finding operation.

"It shouldn't be theater," he added, while asking, "Who's going to be held accountable ... because so far nobody has been."

—By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere. Reuters contributed to this report.