13 Things You Never Knew About Republican Star Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

At age 41, Marco Rubio is already one of the most-watched Hispanic leaders in American politics. But the Florida Senator is still relatively unknown to most voters outside his home state, and his meteoric rise has puzzled many Beltway insiders, as they scramble to decide whether Rubio is a strong contender for Mitt Romney’s V.P. nod.  Rubio’s new self-titled autobiography, An American Son, is an early attempt to clear up some of the mystery surrounding Rubio, unveiling personal details about the Florida Senator’s family history, his educational struggles, and his rapid rise through the Republican Party.

The highly-anticipated memoir finally hit the shelves this week, and it reveals some surprising — and occasionally juicy — details about Rubio, offering a rare glimpse into the life of the rising conservative star.

As a child, Rubio wore leg braces because his knees turned inward.

He eventually outgrew the problem.

Source: American Son

Rubio is a huge Miami Dolphins fan — his sister and his wife Jeanette were even Dolphins cheerleaders.

In 1985, Rubio washed dogs every week to pay for tickets to go to all eight regular season Miami Dolphins home games. A few years later, Rubio's sister Veronica landed a spot on the Miami Dolphins cheerleading squad, and she gave Rubio her two season tickets.

Rubio also played one year of college football at Tarkio College in Missouri.

Source: American Son

He was also a big fan of Ted Kennedy.

Rubio writes that his obsession with politics began in 1980, and was sparked by two seminal events -- 'Senator Edward Kennedy's challenge to President Carter for the Democratic presidential nomination and the Iran hostage crisis.'

He adds that he was crushed when Kennedy lost his challenge to Carter.

Source: American Son

His musical guilty pleasure is hip hop.

According to his memoir, Rubio's surprising affinity for hip-hop music started in the 6th grade when he listened to Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash.

Rubio has also expressed a dislike for disco tunes, and recently told reporters that he loves Nicki Minaj's new album.

Source: American Son

He was a class clown.

One high school teacher offered him a C-minus if he skipped class, and threatened to give him an F if he did show up. Rubio graduated from high school with a 2.1 grade point average.

Source: American Son

Rubio writes that he 'adopted an obnoxiously braggadocio personality. I strutted around the stage, smirked, threw my microphone and stalked offstage after I finished the song. My friends got the joke. The judges did not -- they voted me second to last.'

Source: American Son

The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables was Rubio's favourite spot for underage drinking.

In high school, Rubio snuck into the gazebos of the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables because it 'offered the perfect hiding spot for underage beer drinking.'

The hotel has also played a prominent role in Rubio's adult life. He and his wife Jeanette spent their wedding night at the Biltmore, and he was at the hotel when he found out that he won the Florida Senate election in 2010.

Source: American Son

Rubio proposed to his wife on top of the Empire State Building.

On Valentine's Day in 1997, Rubio surprised his then-girlfriend Jeanette with a trip to New York, her favourite city. On top of the Empire State Building, Rubio popped the question.

The couple met through mutual friends. For their first date, Rubio helped organise a small group outing to see Robin Hood with Kevin Costner. Rubio writes:

'I managed to sit next to her. I don't remember what I said, but Jeanette claims I talked so much she couldn't watch the movie. The movie's theme song was by Bryan Adams. To this day, whenever I hear the song, I remember the night I started to fall in love with Jeanette Dousdebes.'

The couple briefly split up when Rubio was in law school at the University of Miami. To bounce back, Rubio writes that he threw himself into Miami nightlife, especially the clubs. The couple eventually got back together.

Source: American Son

Source: American Son

Rubio once saved his son, Dominick, from drowning.

He writes:

'I heard our home alarm sound to indicate someone had opened a door. I assumed Jeanette had returned and so, lost in conversation, I thought nothing of it. But after a few minutes, something stirred in my awareness and I hung up the phone to check on Dominick. He wasn't in the playroom. I ran to the back of our house and found the door open. My heart began to race. We have a small pool, only a few feet deep, but big enough for a boy to drown in. That's where I found my little boy, floating face down.'

Rubio jumped in and saved his son.

Source: American Son

Rubio's young children raised money for his Senate campaign.

Rubio writes that his children, after overhearing one of his fundraising discussions with his wife during the Florida Senate primary, did 'something that nearly broke my heart.' His eldest daughter, Amanda, along with her siblings, collected loose change around their house and the allowance she had saved, then presented her dad with a $23 donation to the campaign.

Source: American Son

Weeks before his death, Rubio's father, suffering from terminal lung cancer, filled out his absentee ballot to vote his son into the U.S. Senate.

Source: American Son

He cried the night Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election.

Now meet the rest of the Republican V.P. contenders...

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