The Post reported yesterday that the parents of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) had not fled Cuba after Fidel Castro had risen to power but some years before. Nevertheless, the report found: “They showed that between the couple’s admission for permanent U.S. residence and Castro’s victory on Jan. 1, 1959, his father spent five days in Cuba and his mother spent no more than two months and three days there. The passports show that Rubio’s mother made at least four short trips to the island after Castro’s victory, including a month-long stay in February and March 1961.” It was during that trip that Rubio’s mother determined she couldn’t live under the Communist regime.
Rubio put out a statement slamming the report:
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.
Moreover, there is some question about whether Rubio ever specifically claimed his parents left the island after the Castro revolution. The Miami Herald, which has closely followed Rubio’s career, notes that in fact Rubio has previously stated that his parents left before Castro’s rise. The reporter observes:
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.”
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. . . .
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.
In sum, the Herald reporter says, “Rubio’s office has told both the Washington 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.” If Rubio was “embellishing,” he did an awfully poor job of it. The best evidence of inaccuracy is Rubio’s Senate biography (that says his parents left after Castro), which Rubio apparently never corrected.
Certain press accounts are absurdly unfair. Alex Burns from Politico proclaims, “Richard Blumenthal won a U.S. Senate election even after it was reported that he exaggerated his Vietnam War service. Joe Biden became vice president despite having once lifted a family history from the British Labor Party Leader Neil Kinnock and passed it off as his own.” If Burns has similar evidence concerning Rubio, he should cough it up.
If this is the best they have on Rubio, he’s in no peril whatsoever. To the contrary, Rubio, having gone through a mainstream press attack, will likely endear himself to an even greater degree to the conservative base. If there’s one thing that all conservatives can agree on, it is their loathing of mainstream media.