He says he was relying on family lore. He argues that he was justified in calling himself the son of exiles because his parents weren’t able to return to Cuba after Castro took power, regardless of when they left.
4. Having Rubio on the Republican ticket would automatically attract Latino voters.
The notion that Rubio is the elixir for the GOP’s problems with Latino voters has become an article of faith.
But look at the numbers. A mid-Aprilsurvey found that Hispanics in Florida favor President Obama over Mitt Romney by 52 percent to 37 percent. The poll put Rubio on the Republican ticket, and the results were the same.
There are also lingering historical resentments between non-Cuban Latinos — approximately 96 percent of the U.S. Latino population — and Cubans, who receive preferential immigration treatment. Rubio has drawn a distinction, saying that he has “nothing against immigrants, but my parents are exiles.”
Rubio also co-sponsored E-Verify legislation, which would mandate that employers use the system to check the immigration status of job applicants. He has said he would have voted for Arizona’s “papers please” law and is against the original Dream Act. On Friday, he called Obama’s executive order to stop deporting young illegal immigrants “welcome news” but branded it a “short-term answer to a long-term problem.”
He has recently drawn praise from some activists for urging Republicans to moderate their tone on immigration and for touting an alternative Dream Act that would grant a special visa to high achievers, but not a path to citizenship.
Rubio, who speaks Spanish fluently, may be able to win over Latinos. But as he has said, it’s not enough to simply choose “a person whose name ends in a vowel.”
5. Rubio has always been a staunch small-government conservative.
Rubio swept into office arguing against big government. Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee endorsed him, saying Rubio was committed to “holding down spending, keeping taxes low and not believing that . . . government handouts is the way to build an economy.” After Rubio was elected, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) placed him on his “wall of fame” for early opposition to earmarks.
But Rubio wasn’t always against earmarks. In 2001 and 2002, he was one of the biggest earmark requestors in the Florida legislature, a distinction that vanished when he stopped seeking them the next year.
Later, he got off to a rocky start as House speaker when he spent nearly $400,000 on office renovations. Rubio wasn’t the first speaker to order up an office makeover, and he wasn’t the biggest spender, but he was lambasted in newspaper editorials because he seemed to be contradicting the gospel of fiscal conservatism that he’d preached in his book “100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future.”
Manuel Roig-Franzia is a Washington Post reporter and the author of “The Rise of Marco Rubio,” which will be released Tuesday in English and Aug. 7 in Spanish.
Read more from Outlook:
Five myths about swing states
Five myths about conservative voters
Five myths about the health-care law
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