Florida Senator Marco Rubio has made his identity as the son of Cuban exiles a major component of his political persona, but according to the Washington Post, it's a fake: Rubio's parents arrived in the U.S. in 1956, two years before Fidel Castro took power. The Post reports "naturalization papers and other official records" signed by Rubio's parents prove they arrived before the first wave of Cubans fled their country as Castro assumed power in the Cuban Revolution. The discrepancy in the date wouldn't be such a big deal if Rubio hadn't touted his parents' escape from the communist dictator in his rise to the senate and even a possible Republican vice presidential candidate in 2012. But he did, in a big way. The Post remembered Rubio's pivotal 2006 speech as he became speaker of the Florida House:
Wearing a red flower in his lapel, his voice sometimes emotional, he praised those who fled, calling them “a great generation.” But he also assured them: “Today your children and grandchildren are the secretary of commerce of the United States and multiple members of Congress, they are the CEO of Fortune 500 companies and successful entrepreneurs, they are Grammy winning artists and they are renowned journalists, they are a United States senator and soon, even speaker of the Florida House.”
Rubio's office's explanation for how these facts jibe is that while they first arrived before the Cuban revolution and "were prepared to live here permanently, they always held out the hope and the option of returning to Cuba if things improved." Or, one supposes, that they were immigrants before they became refugees. While that may be the path he's taking out of one political jam, it actually hands new ammunition to another set of Rubio critics: the Rubio birthers, which Mothers Jones highlighted on Thursday. Some of the people who believed that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya are now out to prove Rubio's unqualified to be president because his parents didn't become U.S. citizens until 1975, four years after he was born in Miami in 1971.
Update (8:10 a.m. EDT, Oct. 21): Rubio issued a statement on Thursday night denying the Post's allegation that he embellished his family history. It reads, in part: "To suggest my family’s story is embellished for political gain is outrageous. The dates I have given regarding my family’s history have always been based on my parents’ 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." You can get the whole thing over at Florida Political Press.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.