Cuban American Senator and rumored potential Mitt Romney running mate Marco Rubio found himself in the clutches of "birthers" this week, who claim Rubio's family immigration story doesn't make sense. Their accusation is, that Rubio -- who has repeatedly stated his parents came to America after Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba -- isn't a "Natural Born Citizen." Hence, he's ineligible for higher office. Unlike with the birther's case against President Barack Obama, who was born in Hawaii to an American mother hence (duh) making him American, Rubio's "status" as a natural born citizen is up for (mis) interpretation: "Rubio was born in 1971 at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, his office said, but his parents did not become citizens until 1975."
Of course, that's not the only thing raising eyebrows. As the serious "vetting" begins, The Washington Post discovered a bevy of holes and exaggerations in Rubio's story of when his parents came to the United States. Namely, that they arrived here more than two years before Castro came to power in 1959 and they likely moved to the US for a better life, maybe/maybe not to flee Communism.
Immigration records say Rubio's parents came to the United States in 1956. In 1958, city directory's reveal his father was employed by Roney Plaza Hotel in Miami.
From The Washington Post:
In one 2010 interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity, Marco Rubio seemed uncertain about the date of his parents’ arrival, saying, “My parents and grandparents came here from Cuba in ’58, ’59.” None of the public statements reviewed by The Washington Post gave 1956 as their arrival date.
The senator’s office tried to clarify the facts in its statement Thursday. After coming to the United States in 1956, Rubio’s parents visited Cuba after Castro’s takeover. In 1961, Oriales Rubio took her two children to Cuba “with the intention of remaining permanently.” Mario remained in Florida “wrapping up the family’s matters.” But within weeks of arriving, “it because clear that Cuba was headed full speed toward Communism and they decided to return to the U.S,” the statement said.
As for the "birther" accusation that Rubio doesn't count as a "natural born citizen," there's not much argument about where Rubio was born -- in Miami -- but they're arguing that he wasn't born to US citizens at the time, hence he's not "natural born" by their slippery slope definition.
Marco Rubio was born 10 years later in Miami. The next year, his older brother, Mario, petitioned for naturalization. The document, signed by their father, says Mario Rubio was “lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence on May 27, 1956.” The entry date coincides with a notarized “Declaration of Domicile” — filed in Dade County Circuit Court by their father in 1974 . It states that “I . . . am and have been a bona fide resident of the state of Florida since the 27th day of May, 1956.”
On Sept. 9, 1975, Marco Rubio’s parents also petitioned for naturalization. Their petitions list the same date of admission to the United States as the petition of Rubio’s brother. It is unclear why Rubio’s parents waited 15 years to seek naturalization.
In the comments of The Washington Post article a debate has broken out as to whether or not Rubio is a dreaded "anchor baby" or if this story is much-ado-about-nothing. But reality is, if you're going to be considered for the big show, you have to clean up your family folklore. Someone will check you out and see if your stories are true. Case in point: During the 2008 Republican primary, Mitt Romney (hilariously) claimed he saw his father march with Martin Luther King, Jr. He had to walk that one back a bit after challenges in the press. Or, the time Hillary Clinton claimed she landed in Bosnia under sniper fire. She, ahem, misspoke. Then there's every bragging statement former Vice President Al Gore ever made. Gore, when running for president in 2000, was a gaffe machine, often exaggerating his role or influence in a multitude of easy debunked things.
So it's highly likely Rubio was just repeating some exaggerated family folklore and the tall tale just kept getting bigger with each passing.
Rubio isn't alone in misspeaking, sharing tall tales, exaggerating or maybe not knowing the full facts of what he's talking about. Resume padding and exaggeration have been part of politics since tall tales about Cherry tree choppin'. He's likely to survive this, as long as it doesn't become part of a larger lie narrative, as it was for Gore, and to a lesser extent, Clinton.
But as for the birthers? Welcome to the big show, Rubio. You're no one until someone makes up an elaborate conspiracy about you.