Rubio rebuts report he embellished parents' flight from Cuba
October 21st, 2011
02:13 PM ET
11 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. Straight Shooter

    Democrat Class Warfare – Destroying the economy, destroying the country

    Whether he took an economics class and/or passed or failed, what would you do with the info? Funny how conservatives said W's school and service records were private and should be respected, but they claim the same items are being "hidden" by Obama. Why don't you have Trump's investigators look into it – I hear they don't have much to do these days?

    October 21, 2011 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  2. Tiredofhypocites

    Why don't Rubio and his parents just produce their naturalization paperwork to dispell any doubts or lies that Rubio probably told for politcal advantages.. If i had a dime for every sucesscfull Latino that crossed the border at night to make to the USA while being chased by Border Control or of every Cuban that rode a raft or a boat in shark infested waters and swam to Miami Beach with the US Coast Guard in pursuit or every African American (Herman Cain) who is now successful but grew up in a 3 room shack eating grits for three meals , the child of a sharecropper or who grew up in the projects , i would be rich... When will it end??? minority politians placing themselves or parents in the familar setting that is often experienced by their group to make themselves more interesting or to give validity to the american dream. It is digusting is very tired ...for political gains just like

    Obama had to to produce the long version of his birth certificate to proove that he was not lying about what he claimed..
    The Rubio's should do the same to prove that they actually ran from Castro to dispell any doubts.
    Those who experienced the Revolution and came to the US, remember exactly how and when arrived . I know.. my husband was 2 years old when his family left in 1961.

    October 21, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  3. Tiredofhypocites

    Dont forget , you also talking about someone who had defaulted on a mortgage in his home in Miami right before or during his run for senate but refused to address it during the campaign.... He was bred in the Banana Republic... where political corruption runs amuck... he does not know any better.. lying comes natrual to him.

    October 21, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  4. The Greedy Old Pigs have declared class war on US!

    "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?"

    You're so right (not really)! Next the media will be demanding his long-form birth certificate!

    October 21, 2011 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
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