Exclusive interview with Senator Marco Rubio on WaPo’s story about his family history

posted at 3:07 pm on October 21, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Just moments ago, I had the opportunity to speak with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) about the attack piece from the Washington Post on supposed “embellishments” of Rubio’s family history. Rubio gave an impassioned defense of his family’s experience as exiles, and ripped the Post’s reporter for not doing proper research on the matter, as well as noting pointedly that the reporter is in the middle of writing a book about Rubio. I also ask the Senator about his dispute with Univision, about which he prefers to just say that the Miami Herald’s report that Univision tried to strongarm him into an appearance is “accurate.” I’ll have more later on this interview, after I conclude today’s TEMS, but the interview speaks for itself:

Video streaming by Ustream

Rubio also has a response at Politico that covers much the same ground:

The Washington Post on Friday accused me of seeking political advantage by embellishing the story of how my parents arrived in the United States.

That is an outrageous allegation that is not only incorrect, but an insult to the sacrifices my parents made to provide a better life for their children. They claim I did this because “being connected to the post-revolution exile community gives a politician cachet that could never be achieved by someone identified with the pre-Castro exodus, a group sometimes viewed with suspicion.”

If The Washington Post wants to criticize me for getting a few dates wrong, I accept that. But to call into question the central and defining event of my parents’ young lives – the fact that a brutal communist dictator took control of their homeland and they were never able to return – is something I will not tolerate.

Be sure to read it all.

Update: Here’s a press release from the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies:

STATEMENT BY DR. ANDY GOMEZ

The Washington Post seems to have very little understanding of the Cuban exile experience and what it means to be an exile. Marco Rubio’s family was forced to stay in America because they refused to live under a communist system. That makes them exiles. It makes no difference what year you first arrived. The fundamental Cuban exile experience is not defined according to what year Cubans left, but rather by the simple, painful reality that they could not return to their homelands to live freely.

Further, The Washington Post falsely and without proof, writes that “being connected to the post-revolution exile community gives a politician cachet that could never be achieved by someone identified with the pre-Castro exodus, a group sometimes viewed with suspicion.”

This is simply false. I have spent my career studying the Cuban exile community and can say with authority that no distinction is made within the exile community between those who arrived in the years leading up to the revolution, and those who came after. They all share the painful heritage of not being able to return home. It’s no wonder The Washington Post made this claim without a single bit of proof to back it up. Because it doesn’t exist.

In the Cuban exile community, there are many stories like Marco Rubio’s family. Many children of exiles don’t know precisely what dates their parents left Cuba, went back to Cuba or ultimately determined Cuba was heading in the wrong direction under Castro. But they do know that the reason they were born in the United States or now live here is because their parents are exiles because they refused to raise them in Castro’s Cuba.

Dr. Andy S. Gomez
Assistant Provost & Senior Fellow
Institute for Cuban & Cuban-American Studies.
University of Miami

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