Before Marco Rubio became senator: 15 stories from his younger days

Rubio describes his mother's trip to Cuba in 1961, when she tried to convince her father to return to the country: "Cuba had changed radically by then, and travel privileges were curtailed. When she attempted to board her return flight to Miami, she encountered the scare of her life. Because she had been born in the United States, my sister, only two at the time, could leave Cuba. But my brother and my mother would not be allowed to leave, she was told. She was ordered to leave the airport, and to consider Cuba her home from now on. Though frightened, she refused to accept the decree. She returned each day for several days, pleading that her husband was in Miami, and she couldn't remain in Cuba without him."

5. In high school, Rubio was so disruptive that his teacher agreed to give him a 'C-' so long as he wouldn't show up to class again

"I was a frequent disruptive force in the classroom. One teacher wanted me out of his class so badly, he promised to give me a C-minus if I didn't come to class, and threatened to give me an F if I showed up again. I finished my senior year with a 2.1 grade point average."

6. Marco Rubio was a Ted Kennedy-supporting child Democrat


"My interest in politics began around the time we moved to Vegas, and by 1980 politics was a preoccupation second only to football. Two events had captured my attention that year: Senator Edward Kennedy's challenge to President Carter for the Democratic presidential nomination and the Iran hostage crisis. I was a Kennedy supporter. With rapt attention I watched the Democratic convention in New York, and was crushed by the outcome of what seemed an excruciatingly slow delegate count that gave the nomination to President Carter. I was inspired by Senator Kennedy's concession speech."

7. He was also a young 'union activist' who was angry at his father for being a scab during a strike

Workers at the hotel where his father was a bartender went on strike, and young Rubio joined the protests.

"I never grasped all the issues involved, but understood generally that the strikers were just asking to be treated fairly. They had worked hard to help make the hotels profitable, and were entitled to better compensation and benefits. I was excited to be part of the cause and join forces with striking workers from many hotels. ...I became a committed union activist. ... One day, a confrontation between strikers and returning workers turned violent, and my father stopped taking me to the camp. Not long after, he informed me he was going back to work. I accused him of selling out and called him a scab. It hurt him, and I'm ashamed of it. He had had no choice."

8. But his grandfather, a major influence in his life, convinced him to later become a Ronald Reagan-supporting Republican


"Reagan's election and my grandfather's allegiance to him were defining influences on me politically. I've been a Republican ever since. ...I wrote a paper in the fifth grade praising President Reagan for restoring the U.S. military after it had been demoralized and allowed to decay in the years before his presidency."

9. Rubio almost lost his future wife because he went to a South Beach 'foam party' with his friends against her wishes

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