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October 20, 2011

Surprise! WaPo Embellished Sen. Rubio's So-Called Embellished Family Story

Earlier today, the Washington Post ran a breathless story claiming that Sen. Rubio embellishes his family story when he says that his parents fled Fidel Castro to come to the United States. According to the Post, Rubio's parents became LPRs two years before Castro rose to power.

The only problem? Rubio apparently never said that his parents fled Castro to come to the United States. WaPo embellished that little detail. Miami Herald does the legwork:

But the top of the [Washington Post] story suggests Rubio himself has given this "dramatatic 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."

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.

The Washington Post story has all the classics: elided quotes, vague assertions, and even vaguer sources. And, of course, multiple layers of painstaking editorial fact-checking.

Rubio issued this response:

“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.”

When Rubio says he did not know the exact details until recently, what he means is that some 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.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 09:06 PM

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