On Sept. 9, 1975, Marco Rubio’s parents also petitioned for naturalization. Their petitions list the same date of admission to the United States as the petition of Rubio’s brother. It is unclear why Rubio’s parents waited 15 years to seek naturalization.
The parents’ naturalization papers have begun to circulate on the Internet as part of a “birther” controversy related to Rubio’s eligibility for future presidential tickets. The controversy, which was reported this week in the St. Petersburg Times, has been compared to the frenzy surrounding President Obama’s birthplace, but in reality it bears a closer resemblance to the fight over Sen. John McCain’s eligibility in the 2008 election. Both the McCain squabble and the low-simmer Rubio case center on the definition of who is a “natural-born citizen.” In the last presidential cycle, some suggested that McCain (R-Ariz.) was ineligible because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone.
A similar claim has been made in blogs and other forums because Rubio’s parents were not citizens when he was born in Florida in 1971. But legal scholars on both sides of the McCain debate told The Post that Rubio’s citizenship does not appear to be an issue.
Rubio emerged as a national political figure in 2009 when he took on Charlie Crist, a once-popular Republican Florida governor, in a heated Senate race. Crist was forced to run as an independent because of Rubio’s surge.
In a television interview on Fox Business, Rubio spelled out the central message of his campaign, saying: “I believe limited government has made America the most prosperous people in the history of the world.”
Then he pivoted to the theme that had served him so well. “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.”
Research editor Alice Crites contributed to this report.
This account is based on reporting for a biography of Rubio that is scheduled to be published next year by Simon & Schuster.
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