Rubio Fires Back at Report That He Embellished Family Story

Sen. Marco Rubio is firing back at a Washington Post report that claims he embellished his Cuban family’s history.

The Post reported Thursday that Rubio’s frequently told account of his parents being forced from Cuba after Fidel Castro assumed power stretches the truth, according to a review of documents, including naturalization papers and other official records.

Rubio’s parents came to the U.S. and became permanent residents nearly three years before Castro’s revolution against the Cuban government ended with him seizing power on New Year’s Day in 1959, the newspaper said.

The newspaper said that story has helped shape Rubio’s political identity, which has been crucial to his rising star – Rubio is widely considered a possible 2012 vice presidential nominee.

But Rubio defended his telling of the story.

“To suggest my family’s story is embellished for political gain is outrageous,” he said in a written statement. “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,” Rubio said, adding that Castro’s ascension to power meant that his family would not be able to achieve their dream of returning to Cuba.

Rubio said his parents, Mario and Oriales Rubio, and his brother, Mario, arrived in the U.S. in 1956 on an immigration visa, prepared to live there permanently but hoping to return to Cuba one day.

In 1961, he said, his mother and older siblings returned to Cuba while his father stayed behind in the U.S. to wrap up the family’s matters.

“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,” he said.

“They were exiled from the home country they tried to return to because they did not want to live under communism,” he said. “That is an undisputed fact, and to suggest otherwise is outrageous.”