This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," June 22, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Tonight for the hour I will be joined by one of the most talked about elected officials in the country, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who, earlier this week released his brand new autobiography, it's called "An American Son." And he is here in studio.
And you'll also hear later from his wife and his kids. They're seated right there in our studio audience. But first, we welcome the senator from the great state of Florida. How are you, Senator?
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.: Thank you
HANNITY: Good to see you
RUBIO: Thank you.
HANNITY: Senator Rubio.
RUBIO: Thank you.
HANNITY: You know, I've learned so much about you in this book. And one of the things you really highlight is how difficult your grandparents, the life that they had, the life of your parents and how fortunate you are.
And you had even one -- at one point in the book, said I'm -- I'm not half -- half the man my grandfathers were.
HANNITY: My father was.
HANNITY: You had doubt, at one point. Tell us about their lives.
RUBIO: Well, first of all, I think that there's this misconception that the immigrant story is one of instant success. And it's not in this country, very rarely. In fact, in many instances, people come and work all their lives and -- and barely get ahead more than where they when they got here.
But -- but what they do is they're able to leave their kids with every opportunity they didn't -- they didn't have. Now, in my parents' case, when they first got here, they were discouraged for a number of years, in fact, thought about going back to Cuba when, initially, people thought Fidel was actually going to be a good thing.
Ultimately, they had to settle here and accept it and -- and -- and accept that this was their -- their new life. They're very grateful to this country for that opportunity. And because of their hard work, because of their sacrifices, they were able to give me the chance to do all the things that they had to give up on for themselves.
HANNITY: You know, to me, it was the quintessential American story. You talked about your mom. She wanted to be an actress.
HANNITY: And she had to settle for being a maid for most of her working life. You talk about your father. He had other aspirations, but he was a bartender for, what, 70 years -- for -- for most of his adult life --
HANNITY: -- or a big part of his adult life. And you even have a picture in the book about your dad. He wanted to be a business owner. Tell us what their goals for you were.
RUBIO: To be whatever it is I wanted to be. They never had a specific job in mind. They wanted me to have dreams and they wanted me to pursue those dreams and to have the real chance to do it. And I think that was true for me and it was also true for my brother and my two sisters. That's what they wanted for us.
And, you know, one of the things a book forces you to do, when you sit down and you have to research your parents and who they were and where they came from and how their journey here began, you learn -- you -- you meet these people you've never met before. You meet -- you realize that your parents were once your age. And when they were your age, they had hopes, they had dreams, just like you did.
And for some parents, it becomes impossible. In my -- in the case of my parents, the circumstances that they faced coming here -- a new country, didn't know anybody, didn't know the language, didn't have much of an education. But the purpose of their life became I want my kids to be able to do all the things we weren't able to do. Whatever their dreams are, that's what we want them to do. It was never to be a senator or to be an actor or to be an athlete. It was whatever we desired. And I -- and I think that is really a testament to America.
HANNITY: You talk about the night that you were elected senator and you watched your mother walk up the stairs --
HANNITY: Just before you gave your speech. Tell everybody about that.
RUBIO: You know, that was her -- that night was her birthday.
RUBIO: And I thought about what a different place that was from where she was just three, four decades before. My mom was born into a family that struggled. You know, my grandfather actually did OK for a while. And overnight, he lost his job running one of the railroad stops in Cuba and was thrown into -- into poverty because he was a disabled man.
And in rural Cuba in the 1940s and '30s, there was no -- there was no unemployment. There was no welfare. There was no food stamps. What there was is you got up in the morning and you got any work you could find in the hopes of getting enough money that day to feed your kids. And he was disabled, so there wasn't a lot of work around for a disabled man back in -- in that time, as you can imagine.
He struggled. And I thought about how far removed that was from where we were that evening, where I rose to a very, you know, distinguished position and an honor -- honorable one in the greatest nation in all of human history. And I just thought what a testament that was to my grandfather, to my mother and to this country.
HANNITY: It -- you talked about your father had died two months prior --
HANNITY: -- to the night you became senator. But you said he died believing you would win.
RUBIO: Yes, I think -- well, he got to vote in the primary and I think he knew at that point that we had kind of turned the corner on that race. And I like to tell people, my dad did see what happened that night, he just didn't see it on television. He saw it -- he had a better --
HANNITY: He had better seats.