Candidate to replace Sen. Marco Rubio causes stir mistakenly listing Cuba as birthplace

Carlos Beruff’s voter registration form in 2004 listed his birthplace as Cuba. Nothing unusual about that in Florida – except that Beruff was born in Miami.

Beruff, 58, is running in the Republican primary to succeed Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate, who ran for president and withdrew in mid-March after he lost the Florida primary to Donald Trump.

Beruff, a businessman who the son of Cuban immigrants, called the 2008 voter registration form saying he was born in Cuba is a “screw-up.”

“I don’t know how it happened,” Beruff was quoted by the Miami Herald. “It could have been my assistant.”

Beruff said that the assistants who work for him in his home-building business take on many of his personal errands, including voter registration.

“Matter of fact, that is not my writing at all,” Beruff said upon closer inspection of a copy of the voter form, according to the Herald. “I would never write Cuba. I was born in Jackson Memorial Hospital. I know that.”

Others competing for Rubio’s seat  during the Aug. 30 primary are Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who also is Cuban-American, U.S. Reps. Ron DeSantis and David Jolly, and defense contractor Todd Wilcox.

When the news outlet Politico contacted Beruff’s office for a comment on having listed Cuba as his birthplace, the candidate’s press secretary, Joanna Rodriguez, responded, "Carlos is an outsider focused on bringing real change to Washington. The fact that our opponents are this desperate to attack Carlos shows how scared they are of a true outsider. This is the type of nonsense that the voters in Florida are sick and tired of, and it’s sad to see Politico play along.”

“I love my heritage,” Beruff told the Herald. “I’m very proud of being Cuban. But I clearly understand that I am an American first.”

The Herald said that Manatee County's supervisor of elections, Mike Bennett, stated that while providing false information on a voter registration is illegal, the candidate is unlikely to face any charges because it appears to have been accidental.

“It’s not really an issue,” Bennett said. “On this, it looks like a simple error.”

Florida certainly is no stranger to false or misleading information by political candidates and officials.

Rubio at one time referred to himself as the son of exiles, using the words of those who fled the island after Fidel Castro took power in 1959. Under questioning from journalists, Rubio later changed the timeline, saying his parents came to the U.S. in 1956, before the revolution.

Last year, Jeb Bush found himself confronted about a 2009 voter registration form on which he erroneously listed himself as Hispanic. Florida Democrats said he had engaged in illegal behavior, and some speculated that it was an intentional move to appeal to the state’s large and crucial Latino electorate.

Bush said it was an innocent mistake.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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