Marco Rubio: The Rest of the Story

There was a lot of interesting feedback about my Marco Rubio cover story, most of it about stuff that wasn’t in the story. The writer responds.

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Alex Wong / Getty Images

Senator Marco Rubio listens during a news conference on immigration reform, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, Jan. 28, 2013.

I’ve gotten a lot of interesting feedback about my Marco Rubio cover story, most of it about stuff that wasn’t in the story. I heard from “birthers” upset that I didn’t question Rubio’s eligibility for the presidency, which I guess proves that some kooks are capable of intellectual consistency. I heard from Florida Democrats upset that I didn’t delve into Rubio’s awkward history of personal finance; it just seemed small-bore to me, even his mini-scandal involving personal expenses on a political credit card. And some readers asked why I didn’t mention that back when Rubio was a hopeless Senate candidate polling 30 points behind then-Governor Charlie Crist, I wrote a story explaining why he was going to win anyway.

OK, OK, nobody really asked about that. I just enjoy bringing it up. But I did want to discuss two actual omissions from the Rubio profile in a bit more detail.

The most common complaint was that I didn’t say enough about Rubio’s right-wing views—his foreign-policy neoconservatism, his tax-policy ultraconservatism, his hard-line opposition to the Violence Against Women Act, the repeal of don’t-ask-don’t-tell, Obamacare, Wall Street reform, raising the debt ceiling, and so on. As a few readers pointed out, I had just written a column warning that Tea Party purism was dooming the Republican Party, yet here was a relatively sympathetic profile of a Tea Party purist. As a Florida resident and a clean-energy obsessive, doesn’t it bug me that my junior senator opposes climate action?

Well, yes. All I can say is that my story was about an issue where Rubio isn’t a purist, immigration, and the fascinating personal and political journey that has led him into the forefront of that issue. Rubio is the perfect front man for a party that believes its main problems are messaging and Hispanic outreach, a party that believes the only policies it needs to tweak are its immigration policies. I don’t believe that, but TIME has written a lot about the GOP, and so have I, here and here, here and (back in the day) here. This was a story about a really conservative Republican trying to thread a needle on a really important issue where he’s got a really compelling back story.

Speaking of that back story, some readers asked why I didn’t mention that Rubio used to suggest that his parents fled Fidel Castro before the excellent Manuel Roig-Franzia reported that they arrived in the US three years before Castro seized power in Cuba. Rubio says he still considered them exiles, because they couldn’t return to his home country, and I didn’t think a few occasional embellishments was that big a deal. But as Roig-Franzia pointed out in his biography, The Rise of Marco Rubio, Rubio did declare during his 2010 Senate campaign, when he was running as an immigration hard-liner, that he came from a family of exiles, not a family of immigrants. I do wish I could have delved into that—not only because, as I showed in my story, he actually comes from a classic family of immigrants who came to the U.S. to pursue a better life, but because his efforts to draw that distinction hint at some deeper tensions within Hispanic America.

Cubans, as I mentioned in the article, have their own set of extremely lenient immigration laws, the Cuban Adjustment Act and the bizarre “wet-foot/dry-foot” policy that qualifies them for permanent U.S. resident status just a year after they make landfall. Mexicans and Hondurans and Salvadorans get detained and deported—even though, as Rubio says, most of them come seeking the American dream of a better life, just as his parents did. So while Rubio is showing some political courage by supporting a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, a path that his Tea Party base considers amnesty, many non-Cuban Hispanics will resent his efforts to make that path as arduous as possible, and to make it contingent on strict enforcement mechanisms that don’t really apply to Cuban exiles.

When we talked, Rubio acknowledged that the Cuban Adjustment Act needs to be “reexamined” in light of lax travel policies that allow exiles who purportedly fled persecution return to the island once a month. Really, he sounded more upset about the lax travel policies than the lax immigration rules, but having a Cuban-American front man for reform could shine a spotlight on these contradictions. That doesn’t even factor in the cultural tensions stoked recently by the outrage entrepreneur Rush Limbaugh, who suggested that Cuban-Americans (who tend to vote Republican) are good hardworking immigrants while characterizing Mexicans and other Hispanic immigrants (who tend to vote Democratic) as freeloaders.

It is interesting that the two largest Hispanic groups in Florida, Cubans and Puerto Ricans, do not have much of a dog in the immigration hunt—Cubans because they get special treatment when they come to America, Puerto Ricans because they’re already Americans. In the article, Rubio discussed the question of how important immigration reform really is to Hispanics, warning that it won’t magically revive the Republican brand among the fastest-growing sector of the electorate. In fact, restrictionists are warning that a path to citizenship for the undocumented would just end up minting 11 million new Democrats—and as I’ll discuss later this week, there are experts who agree with that analysis in a surprising place.

98 comments
iacastro
iacastro

For lack of a better term, I would call myself a Cuban-American.  Yes, I was born in Cuba, yes I came to the U.S. after the Revolution and yes, I've been a U.S. citizen for over 50 years. While I resent all those people that believe that ALL Cuban-Americans vote Republican (Raul Martinez a former Hialeah mayor reelected multiple times is a lifelong Democrat) I also resent those of  left who accuses us of being Fascist.  Being anti-Marxist does not make one a Fascist - that is an oversimplification.  There are many of us - the majority i would say - who are in favor of Health Care reform (I believe that Obamacare does not goes far enough.  I would opt for something similar to the Canadian or French systems); for better schools and easier access to higher education (think student grants and loans for college); a more equitable tax system; for the regulation of certain industries (let's face it airline deregulation didn't work. We pay less for tickets, but now we paid for luggage and meals and whatever); for a more reasonable foreign policy (nobody in D.C seems to care much about our neighbors to the South) and for a better management of our military expenses.  In addition, most Cuban-Americans are in favor of term limits for ALL elected officials; revamping Congress retirement procedures and many other "liberal" issues.  Many of us are bitterly anti-Castro.  If you had your property taken away from you, your basic rights denied, jail for expressing an opinion and restricted in traveling and other matter, you too would be anti-Castro or anti-anybody who would take your rights. But, if Castro were a right wing dictator many would oppose him, but he is left-wing and opposing a left wing dictatorship is anathema to many liberal Americans.  There is a lot of racism in that way of thinking. it goes like this: I have rights because I'm white, Anglo-Saxon (or German, or Dutch), and Protestant. You Spanish speakers of all races are inferior and need a "strong hand" to guide you. 

Furthermore, I also resent the fact that many of you are trying to drive a wedge between Cubans and other Hispanics.  I lived in New Mexico and California for over 20 years and found nothing but good will from New Mexicans, Californios and recent immigrants.  Somehow the somewhat common language and culture seemed to trump all our differences.

drudown
drudown

Rubio is the latest GOP "figurehead" presidential candidate,. (see, e.g., Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush).

Instead of proffering anything substantive, Rubio dispenses GOP talking points with the predictability of a shopworn Pez dispenser. 

"Cheat me in price but not the kind of goods." - Spanish Proverb

CerebralSmartie
CerebralSmartie

Was there a time when Herman Cain was the GOP darling in Florida? God save us.

kline_m
kline_m

Blah, blah, blah. All I read here is why I didn't say all the bad things about Rubio that I should've said because if the guy is really "The Republican Savior" I don't want to damage his chances by pointing out his insane and controversial views, votes and history. This was suppose to be a COMPLETE story about Rubio, correct? If you knew of certain aspects to his story, both good and bad, as a columnist, isn't it your duty to tell the whole story. That's unless you're either writing fiction, been paid off or he's your preferred candidate. Either way, you misled your readers who you know full well won't research or remember those so-called other stories about the GOP. Americans have ADD, especially when it comes to politics. But you knew that, didn't you when you edited your POS story? Rubio is just like the rest of the right-wing hacks because up until Obama's 2nd Inauguration, Rubio was playing the same tune as the rest of them. You know, all the "I don't know if Obama was born here.", "We can't raise taxes on the rich.", "We can't give 'illegals' amensty." and all the rest. All I can say is "SCREW RUBIO AND YOU TOO FOR THAT MATTER!"

formerlyjames
formerlyjames

Whatever.  It doesn't take a genius to know that the privileged  Miami Cuban fascists won't win over the  Mexican-American voters.   Their spanish doesn't translate in those quarters.  

MacdonaldBank
MacdonaldBank

The GOP/Republican Party; have been overtaken by religious lunatics!

It may never -- recover!  www.BogusHocusPocus.com


jmac
jmac

Rubio's giving the Republican response to the State of the Union,  followed by Rand Paul giving the Tea Party response.   Rubio is no Christ.  Rubio IS Rand Paul.  There's about as much difference between the two as there is between my two Texas Senators - Cornyn and Cruz.  There are no semi-moderates in the GOP no matter how the press wants to spin it.  


Ivy_B
Ivy_B

I have said before, they are pushing Rubio thinking he will bring all Hispanics to them just as they pushed Palin thinking she would bring all women to them. I think the former will work out as well as the latter.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Just saw Argo this weekend, I do not understand why everyone is falling head over heels about it.  It was an OK movie, but everything it did Munich by Spielberg did 10x better.

jason024
jason024

We get it Rubio is a "moderate" (compared to how far the GOP has gone) on immigration.  Just don't act all suprised that everyone thinks his "moderation" compared to everyone else is hardly moderate.  You can try to put lipstick on a pig all you want. But it is still a pig.  

TyPollard
TyPollard

Does anyone notice that Mondays are light on right wing posters? 

I'm not complaining but it seems odd to me.

MacdonaldBank
MacdonaldBank

Obama should be praised for standing up for human rights … by supporting the gay community!  To see the religious lunatics ty to manipulate government and our lives -- is shameful. 

Someone left the door of the asylum ajar -- the religious extremists are loose & they are all in the Republican Party!

Religion; is the biggest bully on the block!

Pat Robertson is a total lunatic! Tony Perkins and his The Family Research Council's opposition to gay rights have landed the outfit onto a list of "hate groups,” like the KKK.Christian colleges should be classified as hate groups and shut down.  

truthorsnare
truthorsnare

Rubio needs to protect himself from the Rush Limbaugh effect if he wants to be a credible candidate. Fox News has followed the lead of an embecile and their brand (along with the Republican Party as a whole) now suffers from the self-proclaimed label of the "stupid party". It's also the reason why Fox News viewers (along with EIB listeners) are labeled as "Low Information Voters" -- a label that Limbaugh is upset the GOP has been saddled with.

Limbaugh is so upset by the label that he's on a campaign to convince his audience that the label was created to describe "liberals" not his loyal audience of "dittoheads" (notice the irony). Too bad Limbaugh has already admitted his low opinion of his audience when he recounted ON AIR his Slim Whitman story. He once instructed his gullible audience to play a Slim Whitman album backwards and they would hear demonic messages. He got a flood of calls in response from his listeners declaring that they couldn't hear the demonic messages no matter how many times they played the album backwards (I'm not making this up.) So what did Rush do? He didn't tell them that it was a joke.  Instead, he told them to upgrade their equipment because the phonographs they were using were probably too outdated to hear the messages (true story).

Limbaugh's opinion of his own audience puts the "LOW" in "Low Information Voter" -- they're just too gullible to be offended.

Sue_N
Sue_N

Any story that focuses on Rubio's attempt to portray himself as a "moderate" on immigration but doesn't also focus on his unyielding opposition to VAWA is a travesty. Rubio and the GOP keep trying to persuade this country that they don't have a "woman problem," and yet by refusing to reauthorize VAWA, with its beefed-up protections for Native Americans, immigrants and the LGBT folks, it clearly is not serious about appealing to women.

To GOPers, including Rubio, it is perfectly okay for native women, the undocumented and LGBT folks to be abused, raped and killed. Any time Rubio opens his mouth about immigration, he needs to be made to answer for his unwillingness to protect immigrant women.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

@Ivy_B Ivy, I believe you are overlooking the mass of African American voters who joined the republicans when Michael Steele became the head of the party. 

Sue_N
Sue_N

@Ivy_B I think it just points out how little the GOP knows (or cares) about Hispanics. There is a huge difference between Cubans - who are granted citizenship the very moment they set foot on these shores and have tremendous political clout - and Hispanics from Mexico and Central and South America. There's a huge difference between Cubans and Puerto Ricans, who are actually Anericans.

For Republicans to believe that waving around their token Cuban will somehow make other Hispanics love them reveals just blind they are.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@Ivy_B 

You hit the nail right on the head, and they're too shallow to appreciate how much of an empty (and to many, offensive) gesture it is.

outsider
outsider

On my trip I saw Lincoln and Argo back to back. Lincoln was much better - day-lewis is just awesome!

@DonQuixotic

Sue_N
Sue_N

@TyPollard Maybe today pauley's just waiting for Obama to come dig him out of the snow?

MrObvious
MrObvious

@TyPollard 

They're all in shock over the pope. Not that they give a ratsingers ass but it threw a monkey wrench in the whine mobile. Rush need to figure out how to link it to liberals first. Maybe the Onion can help him out.

outsider
outsider

@TyPollard 


They haven't received the talking points for the week yet. 

Happens every week. 

They don't know what to complain about yet, until the right starts complaining about the weekend talk shows. 

BenevolentLawyer
BenevolentLawyer

@Sue_N Rubio is a lying sod. I think it is a waste of time to even discuss him. Other than his Cuban background, he is one of he most uninspiring young Senators I have ever encountered. He is ambitious BUT spineless.

jmac
jmac

@Sue_N    Grunwald:  "He's  (Rubio) the perfect front man."   So was W.   George Bush's economic policies (Harding, Coolidge, Ayn Rand, Voodoo, supply-side, free-market ownership society) and his bullying ways on foreign policy (plus his ignorance that wars promote the economy) AND his cowtowing to evangelicals on the social issues were overlooked  since he was a Rubio "compassionate conservative."

The GOP is corrupt at it's core on too many issues.   It's important reporters don't let the reading public forget that fact.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@Sue_N 

It's all a joke.  Frankly I don't really mind, I love that these radical members of the GOP (and let's face it, what they've become is pretty radical) are getting all the press coverage while any real moderates in their party are ignored.  Every election year they learn nothing much to our content.

kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

@DonQuixotic @Ivy_B I don't know Rubio well enough to gauge how offensive he is to the American Latino community. 

However, I think it will be hard to top Palin's negatives.

While she fired up the TP-28%, she turned off many fence-sitters (like my parents) who were considering voting for McCain. 

The 2014 elections will very interesting, indeed...


Sue_N
Sue_N

@outsider2011 Haven't seen Argo yet, but Lincoln was fabulous. Daniel Day-Lewis deserves the Oscar he'll probably get. And I say that as a huge Hugh Jackman-Les Miz fan.

cent-fan
cent-fan

@MrObvious @TyPollard

Didn’t Nostradamus have quatrain about two Popes… or no Popes… or was that a joke I heard in the bar last night?Either way I think it means six more weeks of winter.

MacdonaldBank
MacdonaldBank

@bobell @MacdonaldBankTony Perkins and his The Family Research Council's opposition to gay rights have landed the outfit onto a list of "hate groups,” like the KKK.Christian colleges should be classified as hate groups and shut down. 

 

Sue_N
Sue_N

@jmac @Sue_N If I never hear again the words "compassionate conservative," I'll be happy. Those two words, as used by today's GOP, are mutually and completely exclusive. Of course, so are the words "Christian right."

There is nothing in the GOP platform, philosophy (if they can be said to have one) or policies that even remotely resembles compassion or Christianity (as I know it).

When you're all about protecting wealth and privilege while promoting policies that cause everyone else to suffer, you probably need to stop using the word "compassion." Because one day, you're gonna choke on it.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@DonQuixotic @Sue_N I do mind, Don. We need two functioning, sane, rational, thoughtful parties for our system to work. We have problems in this country that require sane, rational, thoughtful, modern solutions. But we don't have that. We've got the Democrats trying to be the grownups, trying to get things done, and then we've got GOPers playing with oily rags and matches. And all the while, our courtier press is trying desperately not to offend anyone by pointing out that one of our governing parties might be insane.

We are supposedly the most powerful nation in the world, and we've got one political party that can't admit Jesus didn't ride a dinosaur to work or that women maybe should be protected from things like, I don't know, rape and murder. I mind. I mind a lot.

Ohiolib
Ohiolib

@kbanginmotown @DonQuixotic @Ivy_B Meh. I expect to see the teatards make modest gains, a seat or 2 in the senate, probably 5-6 in the house, depending on exactly who is up for re-election and and if anyone says "macaca" to a camera. The mental munchkin s will be terrified that obama is trying to take their pea-shooters and make them worship allah. And, since it's an off year, there will be too many of them to be canceled out by sanity. 

MacdonaldBank
MacdonaldBank

@MartinKileyMedvedThere is no scientific evidence to prove any of the cross related bogus elements of christianity and other religions. Our early human ancestors; on this earth … go back more than 6 million years … 5,996,000 years before the Greeks, Romans and the Jews.  Christianity is basically a 2013 year old fictional cult. In the year 300 AD when Emperor Constantine, who to some was the first pope; went on to fabricate & market Christianity!

Christianity is a fantasy; which turned out to be one of the most hateful & evil concoctions ever perpetrated on the world.  

Einstein stated in a letter recently auctioned that the bible was a collection of primitive legends. He said believing in God was childish and he as a Jew is no different than another person and are not chosen by God. 

MacdonaldBank
MacdonaldBank

@MartinKileyMedvedI am the son of a catholic father who never went to church and a protestant mother who took us to church and Sunday school. Onward christian soldiers; I think not. Such absolute drivel. To be manipulated by a santa claus; an easter bunny and worst of all a bogus cross?

Sue_N
Sue_N

@bobell @Sue_N We'll be one of the last bastions of baggerdom long after the tea Party has died.

It's so nuts down here that Cornyn will probably be primaried this time. Because, y'know, Big John is such a bleeding liberal.

My poor state is soooooooo screwed.

bobell
bobell

@Sue_N Rubio,with that baby face, is a lot prettier than Cruz, and he's learned to obfuscate teh crazy, whereas Cruz is proud of it.  Also, Texas is gaga for Tea Partiers, whereas Florida is purple, so it's less risky to Cruz than to Rubio to say all those loony right-wing things.  I agree with you that under the surface they're pretty much interchangeable, but surfaces matter.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@MrObvious @Sue_N When you think about it, there's not an ounce of difference between Rubio and Ted Cruz, another young Cuban Tea Party up and comer (except that Cruz legitimately can't ever run for prez because of that inconvenient "born in Canada" thing; ha ha). They have the same stances on everything *except* immigration, and yet Rubio seems to come off as a "nice guy," while Cruz is just a nasty piece of work. And yet they are basically the same guy. Ask anyone, though, and they'll say Rubio is the moderate and Cruz the hardliner. It's ridiculous.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@Sue_N 

Daily show had a great take on their 'messaging' problem and how Fox together with their 'messaging guru' were talking about how they need to revise the words they use. Kind of like compassionate conservative and clear sky stuff. Just take an issue and find a harmless even positive word for it. Kind of how I view Rubio - he used to be the teaparty candidate, now he's going moderate. In words only of course. He's still the same dense core of do nuthin'.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@MrObvious @DonQuixotic @Sue_N My husband is forever telling me I need to quit using logic and reason. He says it'll just end up making *me* crazy.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@DonQuixotic @Sue_N I truly believe the advent of the 24-hour news cycle and the culture of instantaneous information really has damaged our politics, possibly beyond repair.

Once upon a time, there was time for deliberation, for reflection, for "we'll get back to you on that." Now everything happens in real time, and politicians are answerable the very moment their words leave their mouths. Plus you've got the Limbaughs, Hannitys and O'Reillys - and, to be fair, the Maddows and Matthewses - hammering away day and night ... it makes for a lot of heat and very little light. And wre all the poorer for it.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@DonQuixotic @Sue_N 

You use this word 'reasonable'. I don't think rightwingers know what it means. It seems to conflict with their my way or the highway mentality.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@Sue_N

I understand, but we haven't had two reasonable parties to choose from for a good 30 years.  Frankly I don't think we can anymore with the advent of digital, instantaneous information (specifically the speed at which misinformation can fly around).