Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., seen as a possible VP candidate, has found himself in a controversy over the details of his family history, denying that he embellished the story of his family fleeing from Cuba after Castro took power for political gain.
An investigation by The Washington Post through the Rubio family’s naturalization papers, official records and passports reveal that Rubio’s parents came to the U.S. more than 2.5 years before Castro’s forces overthrew the Cuban government.
“The real story of his parents’ migration appears to be a more conventional immigrant narrative, a couple who came to the United States seeking a better life,” Manuel Roig-Franzia writes in the Washington Post. ”In the year they arrived in Florida, the future Marxist dictator was in Mexico plotting a quixotic return to Cuba.”
This is contrary to what Rubio has claimed in countless speech on the campaign trail for Senate and now in the Senate.
In a statement last night the junior senator from Florida defended himself and his family history, saying that the idea that he embellished his story 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,” Rubio said in a statement. ” 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.”
Rubio then attempted to explain the details that he did not know before.
After arriving in the United States, the senator says, his parents “had always hoped to one day return to Cuba” if things improved and traveled there several times.
In 1961, his mother and older siblings returned to Cuba while his father stayed behind “wrapping up the family’s matters” in the U.S.
After just a few weeks living there, his mother, “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,” Rubio said. “That is an undisputed fact and to suggest otherwise is outrageous.”
Politicians, whether mistakenly or purposely, getting the facts wrong in their family history is nothing new.
In the early days of the 2008 presidential campaign, then-Senator Barack Obama was involved in a controversy over claims of his family history as well.
In March 2007 during a speech in Selma, Ala., Obama claimed that his parents “got together” because of the 1965 Selma march.
“There was something stirring across the country because of what happened in Selma, Alabama, because some folks are willing to march across a bridges,” Obama said, “So they got together and Barack Obama Jr. was born. So don’t tell me I don’t have a claim on Selma, Alabama. Don’t tell me I’m not coming home to Selma, Alabama.”
But Obama was born in 1961, four years before the 1965 Selma march.