Sen. Marco Rubio continued to aggressively push back on a Washington Post story that accused him of exaggerating his family history, saying the newspaper “misses the point” of his personal narrative and should correct its article.
Late last week, the Post published a story alleging that the Florida Republican’s account of his parents’ journey from Cuba to the United States “embellishes the facts.”
Specifically, reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia zeroed in on a fact the St. Petersburg Times reported a day earlier: that Rubio’s parents had actually first come to the United States in 1956 — a date at odds with his official Senate biography, which specified they arrived after Fidel Castro took power in 1959.
Rubio, a freshman senator and a rising star in the GOP, has repeatedly conceded he had the wrong date, but he insisted he did not deliberately try to mislead voters. Regardless of what year his parents first immigrated to the United States, Rubio has argued it’s irrelevant to their identity as Cuban exiles. He said they could not return to their native country after his mother and older siblings went back to Cuba and tried to live under Castro’s communist regime in 1961.
“The bottom line is: It misses the point. I don’t need to embellish my narrative. My narrative is very simple: I am the son of exiles and of immigrants, and that has framed my political thought,” Rubio said during a pre-taped appearance on Fox News’ “O’Reilly Factor” that aired Monday night.
“I’m not mad about it. I just want the record to be straight,” he added. “Look, if they want to say I got the dates wrong, they’re right and I admit that. … But if they want to say that my parents weren’t exiles and I misled people about the essence of my personal story, that’s not fair. It’s outrageous. And I really wish they would have corrected their article because I don’t think it accurately reflects what I’ve said or the essence of my story.”
Earlier in the interview, the Miami native said: “And let me say this, they won’t find a single, credible Cuban American voice in Miami that will dispute that my parents were exiles.”
Rubio also took issue with the way the story was reported, recounting that it was posted online before he had been interviewed by the Post.
“They actually published the article, then they interviewed me,” Rubio said. “They may have called the office before, but they certainly posted the article before they interviewed me and then he added some of my statements into it [later].”
The Post has stood by the article, and national editor Kevin Merida told POLITICO on Friday that “our story was the product of meticulous reporting and research.”
A timeline of events, published in the Washington Examiner on Monday, reveals that Roig-Franzia had actually completed a 15-to-20 minute interview with Rubio on Thursday afternoon and was in the midst of transcribing his tape when the story was posted online with only a statement from Rubio’s office. Later versions of the story included quotations from Rubio from the interview.
“I do not think we caught the Rubio staff unaware with our inquiries,” Merida told the Examiner. “Our goal is to publish timely, relevant stories that meet our standards, and publish them for our readers in a timely manner.”
As he’s done before, Rubio vowed that he would not accept the vice-presidential spot on the Republican ticket, no matter who wins the GOP nomination. And no amount of coaxing from O’Reilly Factor host Bill O’Reilly could persuade him otherwise.
“You are just made for this. You’re good on TV, you’re absolutely a conservative, you represent Hispanic Americans in a fine way,” O’Reilly told Rubio. “If you could elevate the Republican Party into the White house, you’re telling me you wouldn’t?”
“Well, why can’t I do that from the Senate?” Rubio asked.
“Because you can’t. You’re one of 100 there,” O’Reilly retorted.
“There's a lot of important policy that comes out of the Senate,” Rubio said. “The Senate’s an important place. We can do a lot of good from there if we focus on it.”
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