When we examined the extent to which the Washington Post may have embellished the story of Marco Rubio embellishing the story of his parents' exile, we noted that "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)."
The Democratic group American Bridge 21st Century did a little digging and found about 20 cases where Rubio's folks apparently didn't correct the record when the news media incorrectly reported his parents fled Castro's Cuba (they fled Batista's Cuba).
Note: one of the cases flagged by American Bridge concerns an article I wrote where I said his parents fled "just before" Castro came to power in 1959 (It's the only one that says "before" rather than "after.") That was based on Rubio saying his parents fled sometime between '57 and '59. So is the word "just" wrong? Also, Rubio's group insists that Castro still denied his family access to their homeland once Cuba devolved into a dictatorship. And what's more, he apparently wasn't sure of the date himself until very recently (when this birther-line of inquiry began).
Here's today's story about some of the discrepancies in Rubio's recounting, and here's the email:
TO: Reporters and Editors
FR: Matt Thornton, American Bridge 21st Century
DT: October 26, 2011
RE: Rubio had at least twenty opportunities to correct the record
As the story of Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s parents’ departure from Cuba continues to unfold, it should be noted that Rubio has had at least twenty opportunities throughout his years as a public figure to correct media accounts of his family’s history. While the extent to which Rubio embellished their story can be debated, there is no doubt that he actively perpetuated an incorrect retelling by failing to correct the record any number of times.
American Bridge 21st Century has found twenty opportunities for Rubio to correct this popular myth.
If he was not taking advantage of the obvious political advantages afforded to him by the myth of his parents’ departure from Cuba, why did Marco Rubio pass up so many opportunities to correct the record? The fact is he did not mind this popular – yet untrue – tale because it helped advance his political career in the eyes of Florida voters. Now that the truth has been exposed, Rubio owes his constituents an explanation.
“Carrying what one representative called the ‘weight of a generation of hope, dreams and aspirations,’ Miami native Marco Rubio was anointed Tuesday as the next speaker of the Florida House, the first Cuban-American to rise to that influential post… The son of Cuban immigrants who fled Castro's takeover, Rubio's parents worked the same odd jobs that their fellow immigrants worked - bartender, cashier, school crossing guard.” [Palm Beach Post, 9/14/05]
“In his acceptance speech, Rubio denounced Castro as a ‘thug’ who forced Rubio’s parents to flee Cuba before he was born. Rubio’s election ceremony was beamed to Cuba over the U.S. government-supported Radio Marti.” [John Gizzi, Human Events, 10/7/05]
“Rubio, whose parents came here from Cuba in 1959, said the way for the Republicans to attract Hispanic voters (as well as any other kind of voter) is not by adopting liberal policies or by having Mariachi bands at rallies, but by pursuing policies that assure future generations of Americans will continue to enjoy freedom, prosperity, and opportunity.” [The American Spectator, 7/27/09]
“Rubio, 38, is a West Miami attorney who was elected to the House in 2000 and became the first Hispanic speaker 2007-08. His parents fled Castro’s Cuba and Rubio opens many speeches by stressing that he grew up knowing what it means ‘when government picks the winners and losers’ in an economy.” [Tallahassee Democrat, 9/5/09]
“An evangelical Catholic and father of four, Rubio, whose parents fled Cuba in 1959, says, ‘It is hard to be apolitical when you are raised by exiles.’” [George Will,9/28/09]
“Rubio's standard stump speech packages his campaign as the next chapter of a classic American success story. ‘I am the son of Cuban exiles,’ he began in Navarre, telling the story of his parents meeting in Havana and moving to the U.S. in 1959 search of a better life. His father was a bartender, while his mother worked as a hotel cashier and store clerk. ‘Thank God Cuba was 90 miles from the U.S. and not from Spain,’ Rubio said. ‘There has never been anything like the United States of America.’ ‘Amen,'’ murmured the crowd. His campaign pitch invariably offers heavy doses of patriotism and up-by-the-bootstraps philosophy. To hear Rubio tell it, a vote for him is a vote for the American Dream.” [The Miami Herald, 11/1/09]
“Rubio, whose parents fled Cuba in the 1960s, has a clear position on immigration, which calls for strict border control.” [American Spectator, 11/23/09]
“Rubio’s [CPAC] keynote address served as his national coming out party… He wove his only-in-America background -- son of Cuban immigrants who fled Castro, his father working 16-hour days, his mother a K-Mart stock clerk -- into a larger narrative of American exceptionalism.” [Ruth Marcus, Washington Post, 2/18/10]
“Marco Rubio was born in Miami on May 28, 1971, to parents who fled Cuba after Fidel Castro's takeover.” [USNEWS.com, 5/4/10]
“[Rubio] turned to Sen. Jim DeMint, the South Carolina senator who heads the Senate Steering Committee. DeMint was impressed by Rubio and his life story. Rubio, 39, was born in Miami to parents who fled Cuba after Fidel Castro’s takeover.” [Newsmax, 6/7/10]
“‘I don’t want Arizona to serve as a model for other states,’ said Mr. Rubio, a first-generation American whose parents fled Cuba in 1959. ‘I want Arizona’s law to serve as a wake-up call to the federal government to finally do its jobs with regard to illegal immigration.’” [New York Times, 8/22/10]
“Rubio, 39, is the third of four children of parents who fled Cuba in 1959 shortly after Fidel Castro's takeover.” [Palm Beach Post, 10/3/10]
“Marco Rubio’s long closing spot is, in a way, a reverse of Obama’s promise to change America… It’s a powerful spot, but a bit confusing. Rubio’s parents fled Cuba after Communist takeover, and the many problems with the Castro regime don’t include that it’s a society ‘pretty much like every other in the world.’ It’s unclear to me whether he’s warning that Obama is turning America into a class-based society like pre-revolutionary Cuba, or into a classless, socialist one.” [POLITICO, 10/26/10]
“Marco Rubio, one of the transcendent stars in Tuesday's Republican rout, has Las Vegas roots. He's being billed as the ‘great right hope’ after the Miami-born Rubio rode a wave of Tea Party fervor to easily defeat Gov. Charlie Crist and U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek for one of Florida's U.S. Senate seats. Rubio was 8 years old when his Cuban-born parents moved here in 1979. Years earlier, his parents fled Fidel Castro's Cuban revolution.” [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 11/4/10]
Jonathan Karl: “But [Rubio] isn’t your typical right-winger – his parents fled Castro’s Cuba, his dad going to work as a bartender in Vegas, wishing for his son that one day he’d have a job where he’d wear a suit to work.” [Nightline, ABC News, 3/29/11
“Rubio's parents came to America from Havana in 1959 just after Fidel Castro's revolution. His father, orphaned at 12, was a bartender, his mom a hotel housekeeper. They raised their four children with the fierce patriotism that is a hallmark of the Miami Cubans. [ABC News Nightline, 4/29/11]
“Political uprisings in the Muslim world, and now the death of Osama bin Laden, are giving rise to a new generation of foreign policy hawks in the Senate who are breaking with the tea party when it comes to America's role in the world. Rubio, the son of Cuban exiles who fled the Castro regime to Florida, has urged the Obama administration to break ties with Syria and recall the U.S. ambassador to the Arab nation but stopped short of endorsing full military intervention in a fourth overseas conflict.” [Politico, 5/9/11]
“Freshman Sen. Marco Rubio is often billed as the answer to the Republicans' Hispanic problem. On his party's shortlist of vice presidential candidates, he is a darling of the tea party, represents the largest swing state - and as the son of Cuban immigrants, could make history as the first Hispanic-American on a national ticket. But since stepping onto the national stage last year, Rubio has taken a hard right turn on immigration that could drive away the very Hispanic voters Republicans need to win the White House in 2012. His parents fled Fidel Castro's Cuba during the late 1950s, living in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and eventually settling back in West Miami. His father held odd jobs but mostly worked as a bartender; his mother was a hotel maid. ‘Immigration to me is a deeply personal issue. My parents are immigrants, my grandparents were immigrants, my wife's family were immigrants, I've grown up around immigrants, continue to live around immigrants, so I know immigration about as well as anybody who's involved in it.’” [Politico, 5/23/11]
“Born in 1971 at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Miami, Rubio is the son of Cuban immigrants who left Cuba just before the 1959 revolution.” [Miami Herald, 9/26/11]
“RUBIO HAS A GENUINELY inspiring story to tell--about parents who came to the United States in 1959 seeking a better life, about a father who toiled in low-paying jobs while his family settled in the new land, and about a young boy who eventually triumphed in school and then politics through sheer effort. But Rubio's identity has one complicating factor that even political professionals sometimes overlook: He's Cuban. Cuban-Americans constitute less than 5 percent of American Latinos, and they have their own, very distinct political profile. Like Rubio's parents, the Cubans who came to the United States after 1959 were political refugees fleeing Fidel Castro; they almost certainly had an easier time getting into the country than, say, your typical Mexican immigrant trying to cross the border near El Paso.” [Jonathan Cohn The New Republic, 10/6/11]