GOP darling Marco Rubio made clear tonight that he wasn’t going to let a Washington Post story sully his apparently inevitable road to the White House.The Florida Senator responded quickly and angrily tonight to a Thursday WaPo story that accused him of exaggerating his family’s flight from Cuba for political gain.
The story claims that Rubio’s account of his parent’s emigration — a defining trademark of the Senator’s political narrative — is embellished: His parents did not flee Cuba to escape Fidel Castro in 1959, as Rubio has claimed, but actually arrived in 1956, years before Castro came to power.
That much is true — according to naturalization papers and other documents, Rubio’s parents did arrive in 1956, returning for several brief stints before Castro’s revolution forced them to make the U.S. their permanent home. But the Post comes up with little evidence to suggest that a) Rubio has been making up his story for political gain or b) we shouldn’t totally believe him when he says he is basing his account off of oral history.
As Rubio’s office pointed out tonight, the Post story itself may be a little exaggerated. The essential facts of his family’s history remain true — they are Cuban immigrants and exiles, unable to return home because of Castro’s dictatorship.
Here is Rubio’s statement, via the Miami Herald:
“To suggest my family’s story is embellished 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. 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. My parents are from Cuba. After arriving in the United States, they had always hoped to one day return to Cuba if things improved and traveled there several times. In 1961, my mother and older siblings did in fact return to Cuba while my father stayed behind wrapping up the family’s matters in the U.S. After just a few weeks living there, she fully realised 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. That is an undisputed fact and to suggest otherwise is outrageous.”
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