« Sarah Palin to headline RPOF fundraiser | Main | Before execution, Manuel Valle penned letter to Miami archbishop »

Did the Washington Post embellish Marco Rubio's 'embellishments'?

The Washington Post just released this interesting story headlined "Marco Rubio’s compelling family story embellishes facts, documents show." The paper flagged a clear inaccuracy in his official Senate biography that states the Senator's parents "came to America following Fidel Castro’s takeover.”

That's false. Rubio's parents came to the US before then, in 1956. They remained in the US after Castro took over in 1959. They returned to Cuba for brief stints early on, before the country devolved into Soviet-style totalitarianism.

But the top of the story suggests Rubio himself has given this "dramatic account:" that "he was the son of exiles, he told audiences, Cuban Americans forced off their beloved island after 'a thug,' Fidel Castro, took power." (Update note: The story struck the word "dramatic").

However, the story doesn't cite one speech where Rubio actually said that. 

To back up the lead, the Washington Post excerpts from a 2006 address in the Florida House where Rubio said “in January of 1959 a thug named Fidel Castro took power in Cuba and countless Cubans were forced to flee... Today your children and grandchildren are the secretary of commerce of the United States and multiple members of Congress...and soon, even speaker of the Florida House.”

The catch: If you listen to the speech, Rubio isn't just talking about those who specifically fled Cuba after Castro took power. He doesn't say that his parents fled Cuba. Instead, he was talking about "a community of exiles." That is: He was talking about all the Cubans who live in Miami.

Regardless of when his parents left Cuba, they were exiles because they stayed in the US, specifically Miami, in a community where they soon felt they couldn't go back to their homeland. Though the story said his parents left for economic reasons, it's silent about the fact that the dictator before Castro, Batista, was so brutal that it made Castro look like a good alternative at first. (Insert debate over the fairness of the post-Castro Cuban Adjustment Act here).

The Post also says "the supposed flight of Rubio’s parents has been at the core of the young senator’s political identity." That's a stretch. The actual story of the "flight" is far less emphasized than the fact that Rubio's an Hispanic Republican, and the child of immigrants and exiles (Update note: I mistakenly called him an immigrant and exile in original post).

So to suggest Rubio serially embellished the "dramatic" story of his parents fleeing Cuba could be a little too dramatic itself. And it might be an embellishment as well -- absent more information clearly showing Rubio has repeatedly said his parents fled Castro's Cuba.

Rubio's office has told both the Washinton Post, the St. Petersburg Times and The Miami Herald that his parents came to the United States prior to Castro taking power. And he has said it more than once. In the article we wrote last month about his pending autobiography, Rubio clearly told us his parents came here before Castro took power. He struggled to recall the year (this isn't in the story, it's in my notes) and said it was in "57 or 58 or 59."

When asked pointedly: Was it before the revolution? Rubio said it was before the revolution.

The Washington Post found two examples in FOX interviews where Rubio gave different accounts of the date his parents left the island.

In one interview, he said "my parents and grandparents came here from Cuba in '58, '59." In another interview, he said his parents came over in 1959. He wasn't asked if it was before or after the revolution. Fox Business host David Asman just presumed "they were exiles from Fidel Castro's Cuba after he took over."

Rubio didn't correct him.

So, to a degree, Rubio could be guilty of failing to correct something in the news media that inured to his gain (he and his people are quick to to criticize inaccuracies they don't like almost the second they hit the internet).

Rubio's inability to remember these specific dates isn't much of a surprise. Rubio is sometimes sloppy. When he was in the Florida House, he failed to disclose a loan at one point and fill out his financial disclosures properly. He rung up a host of personal and questionable expenses on a Republican Party of Florida credit card and couldn't show how they furthered party business.

Indeed, the Washington Post story notes that "details have changed in his accounts" of his grandmother's death -- whether it happened when his father was 6 or 9. That's not embellishment. That's evidence of sloppiness.

The controversy over his parents was first printed in the St. Petersburg Times and The Miami Herald because the documents in question were first released by a birther. He says Rubio, though born in Miami, wasn't a "natural-born citizen" because his parents weren't citizens. (What's the guy think about C-sections?) That story is here.

While writing this, Rubio's office just sent out this angry response:

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio issued the following statement regarding false allegations that he embellished his family’s history:
“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.
“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.  In 1961, my mother and older siblings did in fact return to Cuba while my father stayed behind wrapping up the family’s matters in the U.S.  After just a few weeks living there, she fully realized the true nature of the direction Castro was taking Cuba and returned to the United States one month later, never to return.
“They were exiled from the home country they tried to return to because they did not want to live under communism. That is an undisputed fact and to suggest otherwise is outrageous.”


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Come on, folks; surely we can be better than this. As a first generation American, Senator Rubio has a remarkable story to tell, whether or not you agree with his politics. The Washington Post ought to be ashamed for its shoddy, highly selective reporting.



What Rubio did was pretty shameful.


Here's another example of Rubio lying about this, from your own paper:



Sorry, here's one more example (my last, I promise):


Rubio talking about writing his memoir:

"He says he wants to share the story of his background as the son of Cuban exiles"


He is not constitutionally eligible for the office of president or vice president,his parents were still Cuban citizens at his birth in Miami.He is native born,not natural born.
Refer to Vattels Law of Nations,1758,SCOTUS decision,Minor v Happersett,1874,SR-511,2008


He is the son of Cuban exiles, dope.

Once Castro took over, they could never go back, and they wanted to go back some day. Nothing shameful there.

ObamaRelease YourRecords

Article II reads, "No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President....."

Here's the "natural born Citizen" status and "Citizen" status of every POTUS/VPOTUS to serve and their parents.

Irrefutable Proof that Obama (Rubio/Jindal) is Not Eligible to be President of the United States, the Facts Don't Lie!



Poor Miami Herlad blog! Your story is a crock.

You're complaining that the WashPost story says, "...in January of 1959 a thug named Fidel Castro took power in Cuba and countless Cubans were forced to flee... Today your children" include Marco Rubio? And that's somehow embellishing the facts of the story?

Pants on fire...Marco's and this lame blog's.

Saint Petersblog

Five, admittedly knee-jerk, reactions to the revelations about Sen. Marco Rubio embellishing his family history


Susan S

Rubio claimed to be the son of "refugees." Read the definition. http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/unclubbable-senator


Nothing unusual for a politician..,a liar


Nothing unusual for a politician..,a liar


Oh, come on, this is dribble from a Repub apologist.

I was shocked when I read the Washington Post story. Every impression I've ever formed of him was based on this mythology that he created.

Doug Gibbons

He is the son of exiles. I wont bothe pointing out the obvious. But wow, this is fascinating, how the left is so scared of him. This speech does not contradict this blog. Try another one Jack. Say bye bye to the black and Hispanic vote.


An article that is not suppose to get out about the Cuban/American GOP. But, guess what, I got it and everything about it is true. http://www.cubasocialista.com/adjust1.htm

Rachel Campos-Duffy

Marco Rubio is Cuban and his parents are unable to return to their homeland because of a cruel, Communist regime. End of story. The Left's eagerness to pounce on this non-story and tear Rubio down expose their fear of Rubio - the Hispanic reincarnation of Ronald Reagan.


Did you read the article above? He was in fact "the son of Cuban exiles." Why can't he say the truth? Explain.

Do you commenters know what the word "exile" means?

"One who lives away from one's native country, whether because of expulsion or voluntary absence."

J.P. Travis

Jack, dude, you have a problem with reading comprehension. Rubio isn't lying when he says his parents were exiles. Did you even bother to read the article before making a comment? They can be exiles whether they left before Castro or after Castro. Sheesh.

Kenneth M. Koehn

I agree with the fact that Rubio is very sloppy with his recollections and events as to exactly when they occurred.

Bill Clay

His parents were economic refugees, no different than the refugees from Mexico entering our country today. Rubio misrepresented his parents as political refugees to make his political resume look nicer. The irony is that today Rubio fights to seal our border with Mexico. Good thing no one sealed the borders when his parents wanted to come here looking for jobs.


Rubio has never come clean with the Voters and this just another example.


Either Rubio is "sloppy" or he lies in order to further his political career. This is the guy who put his minivan repairs on the RNC credit card; he was in massive debt before he was elected to the state legislature; his family came here for a chance at decent jobs. Hey, does that sound familiar? I am sorry. My great, great grandparents came to this country in 1889 from Germany through Ellis Island. My dad's great, great, great grandfather came to Florida via Spain in 1789. But, his own parents can't remember the date in the fifties? Come on. He always fudged on the "exact date" because he didn't want to completely pin himself down. He only answered truthfully when asked pointedly about whether it was before or after the revolution. He loved medicare for his mom, but he thinks it makes the country weaker now. This guy is a joke; a good looking puppet for the GOP. In my book, he lied.


Birthers say Rubio is an anchor baby.


Another Politician lying, when will the madness end? cant they get elected on telling the truth. one lie leads to others and that leads to politicians losing credibility. This guy has lost his! If you can't tell the truth about your family history what else does he lie about>


Rachel -- Rubio the Hispanic reincarnation of Ronald Reagan? I've always thought of him as the Hispanic Dan Quayle. Take away his good looks and all you have is a sawdust head.


In his own television ads, he says "as a son of exiles..." They were NOT exiles, they left before Castro came to power.. Rubio lied...when you are running for office, or in office, you must be accurate and truthful, which appears to be anathema to Rubio...embellished is just another word for liar in this case.


so you mean to tell me he is no better than the Mexicans that come here illegally. isn't he the one that is the anti-hispanic hispanic, who feels like illegal immigrants should go home. Well lo and behold his parents are illegal immigrants! what a freaking hypocrite .


Yet another, tiresome attempt by Democrats to smear Republicans. It's all they know how to do, and the only thing they do well.

Marco Rubio told the story of his family the way any of us would. To attempt to make political hay out of this is evil. For the Post do so while ignoring real crimes being committed by high-ranking members of Congress and the Obama Administration is unconscionable.


Rubio is the GOP's "wonder boy" they're using to attract Hispanics to the GOP.
However, there's a big difference in Latino Americans and Cuban Americans and Latinos are leaving the GOP in droves.


I'm a supporter of Rubio's. I was proud to support him and vote for him in the primary and general elections of '10. He has done a remarkable job in the US Senate.

That being said, I am disappointed in this. His explanation does not ring true. By an early age Cuban-Americans are typically well-versed in their family's narrative of their journey to the states. Getting 1956 mixed up with 1959 is a big difference in terms of historical perspective. Rubio had his parents to tell him his family's story as well as older siblings who were there. Either Rubio didn't care enough to learn the story of how his family ended up here or he embroidered the truth (or he is just shoddy on Cuba's history). His ailing mother does not need this.


As a genuine Cuban exile I know my story, and my family story. Real Cuban exiles always do! Rubio's parents came before January 1, 1959 for whatever reason...but as far as I am concerned he has abused information for his political gain, and to ingratiate himself with a people who of course support our Cuban roots. But no more...I do not abide liars or abusers to benefit their political amibitions. If he had said he was the son of Cuban immigrants and that he knew of the plight of exiles in Miami that would be different...but it is too late now for weak explanations. The truth from the beginning is all that matters!

pile on

As a Cuban exile I hate to say it but he just lost my support. He is no better than the rafters that came in the early 80's. them and their families live off the hard work of us true exiles. for the longest time i didn't think Rubio's poop stunk but now i know he is just like the rest of them.


as usual - rubio has been caught in his lies again - just look at his reaction to the taj mahal and that debacle........the guy is not out for you and I but rather only to line his own pockets.


this is ridicuous , hell, based on my relatives stories, im not even sure what country my immigrant relatives came from


It takes a long time to get a legal visa for immigration to the U.S. , which indicates that Rubio's parents must have planned leaving Cuba at least a year or two before arriving. According to Miami-Cuban lore, that was during Cuba's golden age, when Cuba was the most advanced country in Latin America. Why did they want to leave that paradise? Otherwise, it is obvious that they arrived in the U.S. as immigrants, not exiles.
Immigration records shows that during all their time as legal U.S. residents, Rubio's father only went back to Cuba once, for one week, and that his mother went back for a total of five weeks. Was life so bad for them in the U.S. that they wanted to return to Cuba ? Certainly by 1961, the year of their intended "return" there were no illusions about Castro and where he was heading. His mother didn't have to go to Cuba to find that out.
Marco Rubio was born in the U.S. of legal immigrants, and is therefore a citizen (ius soli). He has consistently lied and embellished the story of his family's immigration for political gain - and that is what disqualifies him from being President or Vice President. A closer scrutiny into his financial gains and convenient "sloppiness" during his rapid political rise would only confirm him as a run-of-the-mill pandering Florida politician.
This defense of Rubio is only an attempt to cover up how the Miami Herald helped sell this over-ripe Banana Republican.


Marc---who knew you had a "man crush" on Rubio. There is no question that Rubio has deliberately tried to suggest that his parents were forced out of Cuba by Castro---it is why so many members of the Cuban community don't like him...my question is why hasn't Marc come to the rescue of other Florida politicians who have been unfairly tarnished by "embellished" reporting---particularly by the St. Pete Times?

R Ploehn

After Marco Rubio says in his TV spot, “…we can’t afford typical politicians who will say or do anything,” he goes to to say:

“As the son of exiles, my parents were born into a society pretty much like every other in the world, where if you are not from the right family or with enough money, you can only go so far.”

Forget the poor grammar, the intent is very very clear. Watch it yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbaP0Jzd6QA

Marie Burns

"The actual story of the "flight" is far less emphasized than the fact that Rubio's an Hispanic Republican, an immigrant and an exile." -- Marc Caputo

You're not helping Marco's chances to become vice president or president of the U.S. with this false statement. In the cited sentence, you are clearing writing about Marco, not his father Mario. But Marco is NOT an immigrant, nor is he an exile. He was born in the U.S. more than a decade after his parents immigrated here. He never lived in Cuba. Were Marco an "immigrant," or a [Cuban] "exile" as you claim, he would not be eligible under the U.S. Constitution to become president or veep.

There are a number of errors in this report, but this one is the most glaring. You should publish a correction.

P.S. I am a Florida Democrat & definitely not a Rubio supporter. But I don't like it when you write a story "correcting" a story in another paper & splatter your own story with inaccuracies.

Marco needs to man up and apologize

I understand the Herald has to sell papers in Miami so you're rushing to Rubio's defense, but come on. This guy is no different than the Democrat attorney general in Connecticut who lied about his military service. Rubio should man up, apologize and move on.


typical cubans, if only middle america knew that these exiles get medicare and food stamps on the first day..

Leslie Evans

Why does the bio on his official Senate page state that his parents came here to escape Castro?


So...Sen. Rubio, what about other immigrants, like your parents, who want to come to America for economic reasons and to creat a better life for their families.

Since your family did the same, clearly not for political reasons, I'm sure you can identify and empathize with them.

Right? Right?

We don't need no stinkin' fact check

This is from his own Senate website "In 1971, Marco was born in Miami to Cuban-born parents who came to America following Fidel Castro's takeover. "
Sorry, but there's not much gray area there. Perhaps the Miami Herald should do a little checking before they post this kind of stuff.


Couldn't care less...he stands for the ideas that I approve of - namely smaller government and less spending.

End of story.

David Farrar

Because his parents delayed their naturalization process until after Sen. Rubio was born, according to US Supreme Court precedent, he, like Obama, isn't qualified to take the oarth of office of the presidency or the vice-presidency .

ex animo

Davd Sciacchitano

It is a flat out lie, right on his official Senate biography, and a pointless one. Why do it? People would have voted for him anyway. Stupid.

"In 1971, Marco was born in Miami to Cuban-born parents who came to America following Fidel Castro's takeover." [First line, second paragraph, Rubio's official U.S. Senate website biography. See http://rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/about?p=biography -- for some reason, as of this morning, his staff hasn't taken it down it from his web page yet, or corrected it despite the controversy.]

David Farrar

Although I know Sen. Rubio personally, and to his credit, he has not accepted a place on the Republican vice-president ticket, he has thus far not only failed to lead on the issue of an Art. II, natural born Citizen debate, but now he is adding and abetting Obama's Natural-born Citizenship conspiracy.

I, for one, am bitterly disappointed in his failure of leadership in this regard.

Sen. Rubio, if you are reading this...get in touch with me on this issue and we can get it straightened out.

ex animo

Robert Jenkins

I think this is much like a Stolen Valor issue. His family came for economic reasons, I don't see that as a problem. Besides they were doing jobs, Americans didn't want to do. For Sen.Rubio to not know this is astonishing. I have talked to many Cuban's who actually fled Cuba; and now they think Rubio is not one of them as he claims to be. Here in Naples he clearly stated he was the Son of Cubans forced to leave Cuba or they would have been imprisoned or be killed. Sen. Rubio, you need to correct this truth; you need to return the Valor you have stolen. Yet some how I feel you will do nothing to correct this as then you'd have to lie again. What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.

Robert Jenkins

There was a man named Marco Rubio; got caught in lies and cried in studio. Was not a lie just not reputioed. Poor old Marco, poor old Marco, poor old Marco rubio; El Stupidio.


Hey people what about Obama, yes they one you elected President.

Our media has never gone there, shouldn't we be questioning the Constitutional issue of a non citizen President?

Fact is the leftist, liberal cry babies are scared to death!

1 2 »

The comments to this entry are closed.