Washington Post’s Birther Inspired Attack On Marco Rubio’s Family History

RubioInspired by “birther” attacks on Marco Rubio questioning his Americanness, the Washington Post has written a hit piece on the Florida Senator claiming Rubio lied about his family history and is not part of the Cuban exile community.

Rubio dismissed the allegations and defended his parents search for freedom in America, insisting  that if you’re prevented from returning to your country because of political reasons that makes you an exile. (Scroll down to read Marco Rubio’s full statement)

The Washington Post reporter writer Manuel Roig-Franzia claims that Rubio “embellished” his family’s history and states that Rubio’s parents are not Cuban exiles because they came to the United States in 1957, before Fidel Castro’s revolution officially took over Cuba in 1959. Roig-Franzia fails to realize that Cuba was in political turmoil during this time, lead by Dictator Fulgencio Batista, and that Rubio’s parents are in fact exiles, because they could not return back to their homeland because of the Communist dictatorship. Rubio’s parents traveled back and forth to Cuba in the early days of the revolution and realized they could not return to their homeland. Sunshine State Sarah describes the situation in Cuba in her post “Aggressively Stupid: WaPo Attacks on Marco Rubio.”

The Miami Herald challenged the Washington Post story saying the paper embellished the embellishments and questioned the reporting.  About the only thing the Washington Post “discovered” was an inaccuracy on Rubio’s official website, where it erroneously sites his parents “came to America following Fidel Castro’s takeover.” The Miami Herald notes the rest of the Washington Post is sloppy with the facts. The Washington Post never cites one instance in which the Rubio himself makes the claim that his parents came after the Cuban revolution.

The Miami Herald’s Marc Caputo takes on the Washington Post story:

…But the top of the story suggests Rubio himself has given this “dramatic account:” that “he was the son of exiles, he told audiences, Cuban Americans forced off their beloved island after ‘a thug,’ Fidel Castro, took power.” (Update note: The story struck the word “dramatic”).

However, the story doesn’t cite one speech where Rubio actually said that. 

To back up the lead, the Washington Post excerpts from a 2006 address in the Florida House where Rubio said “in January of 1959 a thug named Fidel Castro took power in Cuba and countless Cubans were forced to flee… Today your children and grandchildren are the secretary of commerce of the United States and multiple members of Congress…and soon, even speaker of the Florida House.”

The catch: If you listen to the speech, Rubio isn’t just talking about those who specifically fled Cuba after Castro took power. He doesn’t say that his parents fled Cuba. Instead, he was talking about “a community of exiles.” That is: He was talking about all the Cubans who live in Miami.

Regardless of when his parents left Cuba, they were exiles because they stayed in the US, specifically Miami, in a community where they soon felt they couldn’t go back to their homeland. Though the story said his parents left for economic reasons, it’s silent about the fact that the dictator before Castro, Batista, was so brutal that it made Castro look like a good alternative at first. (Insert debate over the fairness of the post-Castro Cuban Adjustment Act here).

The Post also says “the supposed flight of Rubio’s parents has been at the core of the young senator’s political identity.” That’s a stretch. The actual story of the “flight” is far less emphasized than the fact that Rubio’s an Hispanic Republican, an immigrant and an exile.

So to suggest Rubio serially embellished the “dramatic” story of his parents fleeing Cuba could be a little too dramatic itself. And it might be an embellishment as well — absent more information clearly showing Rubio has repeatedly said his parents fled Castro’s Cuba.

Rubio’s office has told both the Washinton Post, the St. Petersburg Times and The Miami Herald that his parents came to the United States prior to Castro taking power. And he has said it more than once. In the article we wrote last month about his pending autobiography, Rubio clearly told us his parents came here before Castro took power. He struggled to recall the year (this isn’t in the story, it’s in my notes) and said it was in “57 or 58 or 59.”

When asked pointedly: Was it before the revolution? Rubio said it was before the revolution….”

In response to the Washington Post story, Rubio’s Senate office released the following statement:
“Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio issued the following statement regarding outrageous allegations that he embellished his family’s history:

‘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 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. That is an undisputed fact and to suggest otherwise is outrageous.’”

To claim that Marco Rubio, and his family, are not part of the Cuban exile community is wrong. Roig-Franzia’s article is misleading and beyond questionable.

Red State’s Erick Erickson reports that Roig-Franzia, who has “a well documented history of being an apologist for the Cuban communist regime and a hater of the Catholic church,” was inspired to write this story by birthers intent of proving that Marco Rubio is not a “natural-born citizen.”

“Rubio has been hounded since he rose to prominence by birthers intent on sabotaging any further rise he might have in politics. Malor notes, “Birthers intent on somehow proving that he’s not a “natural-born citizen” dug up his parents’ adjustment and naturalization paperwork. That’s where WaPo got the dates for his parents’ arrival to the United States.”

That’s right boys and girls. Manuel Roig-Franzia, who was once punched by a 70 year old for atrocious writing in a freaking style section, uses a Birther originated attack to discredit Marco Rubio and can’t even offer up a quote from Rubio.”

Marco Rubio is a rising star in the Republican Party. He has been mentioned by many as a 2012 Vice Presidential candidate and a future Presidential candidate. This spotlight has also brought on attacks by those who are intent to derail his promising career. Both by birthers who attempt to make the case that because his parents immigrated to this country, and were not full U.S. Citizens when he was born, then Rubio isn’t American enough to be President. Also, by those who disagree with his policy positions and the fact that he is a Hispanic Republican.

Interestingly enough Manuel Roig-Franzia has a monetary reason to write this hit piece, he writing a book on Marco Rubio.

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