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Posted at 02:33 PM ET, 10/21/2011

Q&A: Responding to reader comments on the Marco Rubio story

Update: Reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia discussed his article on Marco Rubio in a live chat with readers.

Many readers have left comments on The Post’s front page story about Sen. Marco Rubio and documents that show Rubio may have embellished details in his compelling family story.

National Editor Kevin Merida and Manuel Roig-Franzia, the reporter of the story, have responded to a few of the article comments, which we’ve included in this post.

“Another embellished story by the Post with a sensationalist headline. It’s becoming the rule, not the exception. The Post didn’t bother to interview him, but chose instead to blast him without the goods. Look at their included video. He didn’t make the claims they’re saying.” — Benson

Response from reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia:

Thank you for commenting. The Post did interview Sen. Rubio in the office of his press secretary. During the interview, Sen. Rubio said his statements about the arrival of his parents in the United States were based on the “oral history” of his family. He did not dispute the accuracy of The Post’s research that clearly showed his parents had come to the United States in 1956, rather than in 1959, as he said on Fox News, or after Fidel Castro took power, as he says on his official Senate Web site biography. — Manuel Roig-Franzia

“First Rubio has not lied. The WaPo has. Check out the Liar in Chief, Obama, if you want to blame someone for lying.” — mlbduffy

Response from reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia:

Thank you for your comment. The Post’s article is based on official government documents. His parents’ and brother’s petitions for naturalization and an official domicile declaration all give the same date for the arrival of the family in May 1956, more than 2 ½ years before Castro’s forces conquered Cuba.

This is what Sen. Rubio says in the official bio on his Senate Web site: In 1971, Marco was born in Miami to Cuban-born parents who came to America following Fidel Castro's takeover. And this is what he said in an interview on Fox News: “And I think that the direction we’re going in Washington, D.C., would make us more like the rest of the world, and not like the exceptional nation that my parents found when they came here from Cuba in 1959, and the nation they worked in so hard so that I could inherit.” — Manuel Roig-Franzia

National Editor, Kevin Merida also weighed in on comments from readers. Here's what he had to say:

This story was the product of meticulous reporting by Washington Post staff writer Manuel Roig-Franzia, who is working on a biography of Marco Rubio.

Post researcher Alice Crites did additional research and document gathering. There is a spirited debate taking place now, in the aftermath of our story, about what constitutes an exile. Our story does not take up that debate.

What our piece does point out is that the Rubio biography on his own Senate Web site mentions in the second sentence that his parents “came to America following Fidel Castro’s takeover.” That turns out not to be correct, which Rubio’s office acknowledges. Manuel did interview Rubio himself Thursday afternoon, and we include in our story Rubio’s comments that accounts of his parents’ migration have been based on “the oral history of my family.”

We also include in our story a more detailed explanation provided by the senator’s office.

As our story notes, Rubio has publicly and frequently linked his parents’ decision to flee Cuba to the rule of Castro. Many other news outlets have drawn the same impression from Rubio’s public comments. Based on Manuel’s research, the Miami Herald, Associated Press, Fox News, The Weekly Standard, ABC’s Nightline, and others have all mentioned in reports on Rubio that his parents came to America in either 1959 or after the revolution.

We believe our story was fair, and important to the developing narrative of a rising political figure. -- Kevin Merida

More coverage:

Election 2012: Marco Rubio updates his Senate Web site biography

Right Turn: Marco Rubio hits back

The Fix: How will Marco Rubio’s past affect his political future?

Photos: The rise of Marco Rubio

By Washington Post editors  |  02:33 PM ET, 10/21/2011

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