The Campaign Spot

Sure, Now the Post Wants to Vet Popular Junior Senators

On the heels of Univision doing immense investigative work on Rubio’s future brother-in-law being arrested in 1987, when the senator was all of 16 years old, the Washington Post’s Manuel Roig-Franzia has a story charging that Rubio has “embellished” the story of his family’s departure from Cuba upon the dawn of Castro’s regime. The Miami Herald’s Tallahassee bureau chief, Mark Caputo, notes that while the biography on Rubio’s web site gets the chronology wrong, the Post errs by defining “exiles” way too narrowly, and ignores that Rubio has given an accurate account of his family’s history in interviews many times:

Regardless of when his parents left Cuba, they were exiles because they stayed in the US, specifically Miami, in a community where they soon felt they couldn’t go back to their homeland. Though the story said his parents left for economic reasons, it’s silent about the fact that the dictator before Castro, Batista, was so brutal that it made Castro look like a good alternative at first. (Insert debate over the fairness of the post-Castro Cuban Adjustment Act here).

The Post also says “the supposed flight of Rubio’s parents has been at the core of the young senator’s political identity.” That’s a stretch. The actual story of the “flight” is far less emphasized than the fact that Rubio’s an Hispanic Republican, an immigrant and an exile.

So to suggest Rubio serially embellished the “dramatic” story of his parents fleeing Cuba could be a little too dramatic itself. And it might be an embellishment as well — absent more information clearly showing Rubio has repeatedly said his parents fled Castro’s Cuba.

Rubio’s office has told both the Washinton Post, the St. Petersburg Times and The Miami Herald that his parents came to the United States prior to Castro taking power. And he has said it more than once. In the article we wrote last month about his pending autobiography, Rubio clearly told us his parents came here before Castro took power. He struggled to recall the year (this isn’t in the story, it’s in my notes) and said it was in “57 or 58 or 59.”

When asked pointedly: Was it before the revolution? Rubio said it was before the revolution.

Kind of amazing that the newspaper that was so late to the Jeremiah Wright story that its own ombudsman reprimanded it suddenly is making such an all-out press on the junior senator from Florida. Why, it’s almost as if the institution had no interest in contradicting the narrative of Obama as post-partisan uniter in 2008, and now sees Rubio as someone who must be damaged and scuffed-up before he becomes a preeminent face in the Republican party. Between this story and the Univision one, it’s almost as if there’s a coordinated effort to deride and smear Rubio before he can become a national figure and perhaps sway the voting patterns of Latinos.

But I guess when Manuel Roig-Franzia wants to hit somebody, he hits somebody.

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