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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.”


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Robert Jenkins

Hey I sent an e-mail to Marky Marc caputo, on my comparison, of Marco's claims of his parents actually being political refugees and a non-veteran claimng to be a war hero. You know Stolen Valor. Marc seemed actually embarassed about his defense of Marco; if not embarassed he certainly made an attempt to be condesending. Either way, the fact remains; to me this "is" a case of Stolen Valor. Sen. Rubio does not owe me any explanation; he does though owe an apology to actual exiles, and not the third stanza explantion in a dictionary.


Did the Cuban American National Foundation, which is comprised of Batista followers and financiers and their offspring of such and represents the Cuban-American version of AIPAC in Miami and south Florida, tell you to write this piece of public relations for Rubio?

Or did you kids at The Herald do it all yourself in order to get out in front of all the protest calls from CANF types?


Por favor. These are not nitpicky items he "forgot" or innocently embellished. In the context of the Cuban exile experience and the politics here in Miami, these dates are extremely important. He was clearly giving the impression that his parents fled Fidel to come to Miami. In Miami, this is the political equivalent of a politician claiming to be a military veteran when they are not. Shameful.


Marco Rubio's parents are exiles. Marco Rubio's parents entered the United States legally. Mexicans can apply for entry into the United States just like immigrants from a hundred other countries.

Now how is his story an embellishment or a lie? Why is his support of legal immigration a problem?


Are Rubio and Caputo now going to boycott the Washington Post?


You mean he was LYING?

Why I'm shocked I tell you... positively shocked...

The tea baggers swallowed his BS - hook line & sinker...

I still want to see Marco's birth certificate! lol


Rubio is a Liar and a Fake!!
His own words, over & over, and his books PROVE it.
This is funny!


A lot of intense butthurt coming from the left over this story. Clearly the WaPo writer embellished the facts here. Numerous sources besides this blog posting confirm this.

My question is to the butthurt lefties: Why on Earth to you continue to cling to obvious BS when it does your political side a massive disservice?


Holy cow, what an exercise in semantics. His parents left Cuba that was under either Barista or Castro. That Rubio may have mistakenly narrated the "exile" of his family as a flight away from Castro (instead of Barista) is almost completely irrelevant. They left the place because of its lack of economic / personal freedom, or they faced imminent danger by staying. Why the liberals find the former scenario less compelling is beyond me.

Mexico is not Cuba. If it was, then their government would have erected electric fences on THEIR side of the border to the delight of many repulicans who push that unsavory agenda.


Marco Rubio is a liar You are all so jealous of president Obama, how many times do you jerks have to have proof. he will be your next president for the second term, so get used to it.


I always thought he was too good to true. I'm not Cuban but I am Hispanic and I always suspected Marco Rubio was insencere. Now I know it and these recent news just cofirm my beliefs....Marco Rubio nunca será presidente y aquellos que lo apoyan son tan hipócritas como él.


The exact year they left is imaterial. They could not return to their home country because they opposed the new regime. That makes them exiles. You dem commentors are on pretty shaky ground trying to make hay on this. Its pretty thin gruel.

Javier Lopez

So Marco Rubio is an anchor baby?

sherry bural

Are you kidding me? Because they didn't cite the speeches where Rubio made these claims? I just watched a compilation in which he said it on 4 or 5 separate occasions...his words coming out of his mouth. The reality is he got caught telling a big fat lie to make his resume look better. His parents did not come to the US to avoid the "thug, Castro." that is the reality. The reasons they came are irrelevant because he gave the reason which turned out to be a bald faced lie. The Washington Post should not be criticized for telling the truth, while the guy who lied is portrayed as the victim.

Jim Wesberry

Rubio's parents were exiled twice, the first time they obviously fled the Batista dictatorship as did many families including my own in-laws. Then they tried to go back but again fled Castro's dictatorship.

Rubio understated the situation. They were double exiles!

Robert Jenkins

Marco, take a deep breathe and repeat after me. Lo siento, mio valor ropado. Lo siento papi. Lo siento real exiles who fought into exile from communistos. Lo siento, lo siento, lo siento.

Anna Bishop

This is so incredibly not a story I can't even believe it. The left will do anything to prevent a very viable right-winger from getting elected. It doesn't surprise me that it was a birther that created it. Is this really the best anyone can do? That a child of Cuban exiles didn't quote exact, documented, details when retelling "The Cuban Story" that we were raised with? I don't have exact details either, but my parents fled Cuba too...this whole story is stupid and shows fear to the bone in the lefties.


What a shame that people try to delegitimize one of the most patriotic, real AMericans this country has ever seen. Fact is, ANY cuban who came to America was essentially exiled, and all their wealth confiscated. His story resonates with millions of real patriotic Americans, who never asked for a government handout, but just wanted to be free. Now you libtards are trying to take away our freedoms. Go to hell.


how pitiful it is when libtards know they are losing.They look for the MOST patriotic, the most freedom-loving Americans, like Palin, Rubio, Thomas, and try to find ANYTHING that will undermine them. So funny how libtards stomp their feet in protest when they are losing, just like the three year olds they are. Yeah, you CAN'T always get what you want. And something doesn't come from nothing. And life is not fair. GET OVER IT.

Bob Calvin

If all these "anchor babies" are legal citizens of the US despite the fact of their parents lack of US citizenship then Rubio having been born on US soil is as legal as they are.
Secondly, His parents could not return to Cuba for political reasons, not financial. That makes them exiles.
I grew up in Opa Locka in Dade County. The Cubans were received right there in the old airport. I even knew a Corpsman (that's a silent "s" Obama" who worked in the medical clinic there. I'd rather have had all the Cuban who started coming here in the early 1960s then the people coming here now from south of our border. Most were middle class, some with college and all with trades. I knwo I worked in sheet metal with them in Hialeah. Honest and hardworking. Yes, they received assistance from us but they didn't stay on it long. I lived in Puerto Rico for four years. PRs hated the Cubans there because they were jealous of the success of the Cubans. And fo rthose curious, I am not a Latino. I am as WASP as they come with American ancestry going back to 1627. I support peoiple who can come here and contribute to this nation especially those who can create jobs. We need more Asians and Indians to stay here after they finish college. Our visa program needs to recognize this and make allowances for them. We have enough carpet layers, roofers and sheet rockers.



Give me a break

Enough softball from Naked Politics, and more "Raw Truth," please.

Amazing that this reporter refers to Rubio as "sloppy" when "unethical" is the fact-based, raw-truth term of art. As to Rubio's serial misleading of the facts, everytime his senatorial webpage -- for which Rubio has obvious responsibility -- repeated the lie. And he "repeatedly" mislead the public and TV appearance. Silence is assent, by the way.

Only by Congressman Rivera's standards is Rubio merely "sloppy."

Time for Naked Politics to live up to its billing.

Dr. Bill Lemoine

It's OK for us to embellish family history to make it shine for particular audiences, but must be verifiable. When this proof isn't real or misleads the audience, it's lying. Anyone should be able to verify the facts. So it's incredible that no one in Florida ever checked the veracity of Rubio's claims/story/history in a 'stellar' rise to political prominence. Now the truth is out in multiple media clips across years, this disqualifies Rubio from consideration where truthfulness, fact accuracy and national policymaking for immigrants is concerned. Politically active people will remember Rubio's lapse, to put it mildly, in his narrative designed to enhance him in public life. It remains to be seen whether Republicans and Tea Party members are also as concerned as this voter in Senators who speak the unvarnished truth in the first place, and then when discovered in falsehoods.


Search Politifacts/Rubio, and you will see numerous citations, including (prior to Oct 21, 2011, where Marco Rubio has stated that his family arrived in 1959, fleeing Castro.

Naked Politics is being quite deliberately lazy, at best.



Only after Oct 21, 2011 did Rubio alter his senate webpage. It no longer says the family arrived after 1959.


In the story Marc Caputo wrote last month about Marco Rubio's pending autobiography, he stated Rubio's parents left Cuba "just before the 1959 revolution." This was presented as a fact in a news story. The Miami Herald and Caputo haven't corrected or updated the story.

Now, in the blog entry above, Caputo says Rubio told him his parents came here in 1957, 58 or 59. If Caputo is telling the truth, why did he misrepresent the facts less than a month ago?


Rubio never quashed his Tea Party birther buddies when they were making a ruckus about Obama...now a birther bit Rubio's ass. call it karma. and this is just the beginning

Joe Carbia

This shows how scared of Rubio the libs are. They only know how to defame and assassinate a person's character. Liberals are fascists. Everyone needs to be aware of that. Rubio will, one day, be President of the U.S.A.


Since he was born in the U.S. in 1971 to Cuban Nationals who were not citizens of the United States, does this make Marco Rubio an "anchor baby"? If so, what does this do for his Tea Party creds?


"A Republican, Rubio acknowledged making a mistake on his official Senate website, which inaccurately said his parents "came to America following Fidel Castro’s takeover" in 1959."

Apparently he has been repeating the false story about his parents immigration timeline and apparently this Miami Herald reporter didn't bother to do any research before he wrote the story.

J R Thomas

The far leftists are in true DESTROY mode....Herman Cain scares the death out of them so now they are bashing him.....Rubio is also a victim because he has a great future in politics and .....God forbid..he is actually a conservative Republican.... The media only loves dim wits like the Joe Bidens and the Al Sharptons..... The radical Democrats tried to destroy Rubio when he ran for Senator but Floridians didnt buy it...we ELECTED him...nice try but your jealousy and paranoia is showing... Andrea Mitchell and Chris Matthews havent met a Republican yet that they didnt try to demonize or destroy...too funny... they are still chanting for THE ONE !!! Who is delusional now ??

Mike Thompson

Does no one understand that the Batista regime was so bad, many "refugees" came from Cuba to be free. Additionally, liberals are so quick to criticize. He parents intended to go back to Cuba and his mother went with the children in 1961 while the father was getting things in order. After a month, the mother returned with her children, as she did not want to live under communism. What do you not get about that? Additionally, Marco was born in 1970, so the facts are all related to him by other, hearsay, at best. Those who told him are the ones who got the facts incorrect, and some of them may have told him different dates. Jeesh. I hope the Lord does not judge me so harshly for all the things I have done in my life when I stand before him. Marco Rubio is a great man, and despite the crazy birthers, would make a fantastic President or Vice President, or both.


Sen. Rubio's parents ARE in EXILE.All of those "examples" by "Jack" are invalid. Here is the definition:
EX·ILES: 1. absence from own country: unwilling absence from a home country or place of residence, whether enforced by a government or court as a punishment, or SELF-IMPOSED for political or religious reasons
"living in exile"
2. somebody living outside own country: a citizen of one country who is forced or CHOOSES to live in another(from Bing definitions)

David Martin

Most employers would fire on the spot an employee that lied on their resume. Not Republicans, want to make him VP.

Rubio's 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.

David Martin

So teabags you find your employee lied on his job application do you fire him or make him VP?

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

Obama's released his long form birth certificate and that's still not enough for you but Rupio lies about his parents "fleeing Castro" for political gain and you're ok with that. You people are not sane.

Smock Puppet, Corrector of Fallacious Propositions

>>> when you are running for office, or in office, you must be accurate and truthful

So, you'll be voting against Obama, then...?

Smock Puppet, Corrector of Fallacious Propositions

There once was a jerk named Jenkins
Whose poetry was as bad as his thinkins
Once Ol' Rubio won it
For Jenkins that sure done it
Made his head explode like a-pumpkins

ken mcmullin

Good point, George, that the leftists who elected Odumbo, who made it his very first act as POTUS was to seal his records, paid a company 1.5 million to keep them sealed, forged a birth certificate, whose father is from Kenya, whom the Kenyan prez said was from Kenya, whose wife said he was from Kenya, are all upset about Rubio's parents.


Ok, so let's say Rubio's parents were not exiles. If that is the case, then they were refugees. Everybody feel better now?


Yeah, what a liar Rubio is. He can't remember things that happened over 50 years ago before he was born. What a liar he is! And to think that he could be afforded some understanding because he only miscalculated by a couple of years here and there is outrageous. What a liar! The idea that I can't remember things from 10 or 20 years ago only proves that I cannot be trusted with the truth as well. Yes, I have had relatives and friends die and move and change jobs, and for the life of me I can't remember those dates clearly. Holy smokes, what a liar I am!

Just the faCTS

Fact: Rubio's parents were living in the US illegally.

Fact: They were granted amnesty by the Federal Government.

Fact: As the son of illegal immigrants, Rubio got a law degree mostly paid for by the government.

Fact: Rubio opposes amnesty for illegal aliens and opposes education funding for the children of illegals.

Marco apparently feels that while he and his family deserve special treatment, none who follow him should receive the same treatment. What a hypocrite.

rex phillips

Obama was born in Hawaii.
He is a citizen.
End of story.
GOP couldn't beat him at the polls, so they bring up the birther crap.


Poor sports, sore losers, sour grapes,
blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada (sigh)

Marco Rubio had an impressive record in our
state's legislature. He is one of the most
popular politicians to ever run for office
in Florida, liked and respected and admired
by Republicans, Democrats and Independents
alike. In the recent 3-way race for U.S.
Senator, he garnered 53% of the votes, which
was unprecedented for a 3-way race in Florida.
In fact, he garnered [a lot] of votes from
Democrats and Independents, not just Republicans. That galls Democrats who care more about their liberal, socialist agenda
for selfish, strictly self-serving reasons
than they do about the best interests of this
country. I'm sick of whining Democrats. Have
you noticed? They can never tell the truth.

Life Advice

I'd like to share this thought;
Whether it is a lie or not, people are more likely to believe what they're hearing as long as it is what they wanted to hear...

Politicians lie! We need a change people, and we don't need the Government to do it for us!



Joseph Lee

Rubio's foes seem to be insisting "exiles" are only those who were forcibly expelled or fled in the dead of night on makeshift boats. They do have a point.

But we may use the term "exiles" more broadly when talking about those of left oppressive regimes like China or Cuba. If a Chinese family legally immigrated to the United States to flee the one child policy or impending imprisonment, it's not so unusual for them to describe themselves as "exiles."

"Exile" also invokes images of freedom fighters, reformers, and the politically who had no choice to flee for their lives. But not every exile's tale is uniform. Many immigratns actually hold allegiance to their old world values culture of oppression back home.


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.

dave wats

Do we really need a third world country politician in the WHITE HOUSE, just look at the politicians we got in MIAMI. A BANANA REPuBLIC al the way,

dave wats

do we really need a third world politcian in the white house, just look at miami politcians,igrew up in miami in the 50's n 60's miami just don't feel the same. back then we were surrounded by real americans, parents who fought for this country, grand parents who stuck it out during the deppression. n built this country up, n saved world from hitler nobody was in a hurry to cross those borders then, politcians dont have balls any more.


You have to feel for politicians. The media tries to find out what ever dirt they can to expose them. They are under huge pressure because of this. How would you like it if you made one mistake and it haunted you for years. This is what politicians have to deal with.

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