Rubio rebuts report he embellished parents' flight from Cuba
October 21st, 2011
02:13 PM ET
7 years ago

Rubio rebuts report he embellished parents' flight from Cuba

Miami, Florida (CNN) - Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is calling allegations that he embellished his family's history of immigrating to the United States from Cuba, "outrageous."

"To suggest my family's story is embellished for political gain is outrageous," Rubio said in a statement issued by his office on Thursday. "The dates I have given regarding my family's history have always been based on my parent's recollections of events that occurred over 55 years ago and which were relayed to me by them more than two decades after they happened. I was not made aware of the exact dates until very recently."

The rising young star in the Republican Party, issued the statement after in essence being called out in a Washington Post article which points out that Rubio's biography on his official Senate website says that his parents, "came to America following Fidel Castro's takeover."

But the Post says its review of naturalization papers and other official records "reveals that Rubio's dramatic account of his family saga embellishes the facts."

Those records, according to the Post story, show that Rubio's parents came to the U.S. in 1956 but Castro did not seize power in Cuba until 1959.

The senator's website has since been updated and now lists the 1956 date as the year his parents arrived.

CNN tried to reach Rubio for a comment but his office said he was traveling. Rubio did not attend a Beacon Council breakfast in Miami on Friday as scheduled.

In an opinion piece on Politico on Friday, Rubio wrote, "If The Washington Post wants to criticize me for getting a few dates wrong, I accept that. But to call into question the central and defining event of my parents' young lives – the fact that a brutal communist dictator took control of their homeland and they were never able to return – is something I will not tolerate."

The Post article points out occasions when Rubio talked of his parent coming over after the Cuban revolution. The article also points to a 2006 speech Rubio gave on the eve of becoming speaker of the Florida House of Representatives in which he said in part, "in January of 1959 a thug named Fidel Castro took power in Cuba and countless Cubans were forced to flee and come here, many-most-here to America."

Later in the speech, Rubio says, "I will always be the son of exiles."

But Rubio never mentioned his parents directly in the speech.

Miami Herald Political Editor Marc Caputo has covered Rubio for a decade. If you look up the definition of an exile in the dictionary, Caputo says, Rubio's parents can still be considered exiles.

Caputo said in a telephone interview Friday that if anything, Rubio is guilty of being sloppy.

"I think it's important that he was called out for having his official Senate biography wrong," Caputo said. "His official Senate biography said his parents fled Castro's Cuba and they didn't."

Caputo said when and how Rubio's parents got to the U.S. from Cuba is not the core of Rubio's political identity. In fact, Caputo said he can't find any reference in all of the Miami Herald's reporting in which Rubio talks of his parents leaving after Castro took power.

"I went through Nexus last night and looked up all my clips, all the clips in the Miami Herald to see if he ever said that they fled Castro's Cuba. I didn't find any," he said.

The Post reported that Rubio's mother made a few short trips to Cuba after Castro took over. In his statement Rubio also said in part, "What's important is that the essential facts of my family's story are completely accurate. My parents are from Cuba. After arriving in the United States, they had always hoped to one day return to Cuba if things improved and traveled there several times."

Rubio was born in Miami in 1971. He came into the political spotlight first in 2006 when he became the first Cuban-American speaker of the Florida House. In 2009 he gained national attention when he won the Senate seat over Florida's popular Republican Gov. Charlie Crist.

The Republican Party wanted Rubio to run seat instead of Crist and Crist was forced to run as an independent.

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Filed under: Florida • Marco Rubio
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. ingrid

    What a politician embellishing facts to garner support? Hold the presses! I am sure that more what come out about Rubio.

    October 21, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  2. Dan, Tx

    Look, I am totally opposed to Rubio politically, but this is nothing. Family histories get altered subtly all the time. This is not worth talking about. If his parents had come to the US ILLEGALLY and then claimed they were refuges and needed political asylum, that would be different. But that is not the case, his family immigrated legally, I believe, so it is a non-issue. Obama 2012!

    October 21, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Hey, take the man at his word that he was reciting the oral histories that he had been taught since he was a child. This issue doesn't do anything to create jobs and help the economy. It is a major distraction, one which Rubio would welcome to continue ad nauseum, from the real issues that allows Rubio to play the victim card.

    October 21, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  4. ObamaCares

    Stop lying, you politician and hypocrit. Like all the others, he'll say anything to advance his cause.

    October 21, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  5. AC

    Marco Rubio is a LIAR. That's what LIARS do, they embellish. Yeah, and for politcal gain! Don't worry, we will be watching you and we will drag up all the lies you have told!

    October 21, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |

    Who cares? He's just another lying teabagger.

    October 21, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  7. GI Joe

    If his parents were communist, he's a communist.

    October 21, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  8. Al-NY,NY

    Anchor baby.....

    October 21, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  9. Mike from MN

    Rubio is Mandarian Candidate planted by Fidel Castro!

    October 21, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Oh puleeeeze1 Hang it up!
    Your parents knew good and darn well that they left Cuba while Batista was in power. They would know the difference between leaving during Batista and getting the hell out of dodge while fleeing Castro,no matter how many centuries went by, and how many times the story was retold.

    Your big ole' coconut head LIED!!!

    October 21, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    Cubans get a fast-track to citizenship only by virtue of the fact that Fidel and Company are still running things. The Cubans continue to game the system for their own, all the while claiming to good citizens of the US. They run South Florida like its their own personal feifdom. I am not surprised at all that his family history is "embellished", but, hey, the Cubans think they are special and deserve special treatment.

    October 21, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  12. Big Mac

    Republicans will do anything to get elected.

    October 21, 2011 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |

    So he blames his parents for the false information?.. As an immigrant myself,.. let me tell you, that a life changing event such as leaving your native land for a new life,.. it's something you never forget,.. the day,.. the month,.. the year. Rubio is lying,.. and shame on him for implicating his parents.

    October 21, 2011 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  14. Democrat Class Warfare - Destroying the economy, destroying the country

    Honestly, will the liberal main street media EVER stop the hit pieces on Republicans over every little bit of dumb trivia in a persons life? This particular attack is pretty pathetic. When you can't go back to your homeland, you are an exile. You are no less exiled than the person that fled Cuba after Castro took power. Now would SOMEBODY please try and get Obama's college transcripts??!! I'm still trying to find out if he ever took an economics course in his life. And if he did, did he pass it?

    October 21, 2011 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  15. Woman In California


    I used to live in Ft. Lauderdale for years and I have many family members in FL. The fact is there are so many illegals in FL they can't even keep track nor do they care to. You can do anything in south FL and get away with it. I witnessed it many times that is one of the reasons I gladly left. The state is overwhelmingly transient and Rubio and his family are part of it.

    October 21, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  16. Steveo


    Anchor baby.....
    Anchor baby is not accurate as there is a totally different policy concerning Cubans!

    October 21, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  17. ST

    Pant on fire Rubio. No more lies. Clear up your big square head with right information. You now know!

    October 21, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  18. Portland tony

    The Washington Post did a non-story on its On line edition today ......I read it and thought I'd missed a page. I mean so what? At least he didn't claim he talked with Jesus about his running for presidency.

    October 21, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  19. Matt

    Meh, this is not a very big deal. I definitely think that he was trying to use the story to garner support but was careful not to lie outright. The point is that his parents didn't leave because they were FORCED to, so why would they have "always hoped to return to Cuba some day if things got better"? That explanation doesn't make sense. So the guy has been less than perfectly honest, and was pandering to potential voters, just a typical sleazy politician if ya ask me.

    October 21, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  20. If I had a penny for every stupid Republican I'd be rich!

    How convenient not to verify the facts. Because his parents voluntarily left Cuba makes his story especially compelling seems a little strange. If Florida was not the center of Cubans outside of their native country he would not be serving in the United States Senate today.

    October 21, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  21. Steveo

    @Herman Cain is NO Collin Powell, but He is a Teabagging Black token to BOOT

    Embellishing stories is the hallmark of today politicians and GOP nutJobs...saying anything and doing-nothing just to win the next election is all they are concerned about!
    It appears you forgot about Hiliary's little ditty about being shot at in Afghanistan or somewhere! I remember that from 2008! Folks in BOTH parties do it! it's just more fun to point out when the OTHER guy does it!

    October 21, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    somebody wrote:
    When you can't go back to your homeland, you are an exile.
    Tell that to the Haitian boat people when they were fleeing their own dictator.

    October 21, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Democrat Class blah blah blah
    I'm still trying to find out if he ever took an economics course in his life. And if he did, did he pass it?
    Well, we don't have to ask for your transcripts, as it is evident that your brief encounter with academia via the public school system was a total waste of time and good government money.

    October 21, 2011 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  24. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Oh, come on, folks. Since when have we expected the same honesty from Republicans that they force from Democrats?

    October 21, 2011 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  25. Al-NY,NY

    Democrat Class Warfare – Destroying the economy, destroying the country

    Honestly, will the liberal main street media EVER stop the hit pieces on Republicans over every little bit of dumb trivia in a persons life? This particular attack is pretty pathetic. Now would SOMEBODY please try and get Obama's college transcripts??!! I'm still trying to find out if he ever took an economics course in his life. And if he did, did he pass it?

    Honestly, will the right wing haters EVER stop the hit pieces on Obama on every little bit of dumb trivia?? This attack is pretty pathetic.

    October 21, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
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