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Marco Rubio Visits The O’Reilly Factor For Some Republican Rehab

Reported by Ellen - October 24, 2011 -

As I posted last week, Florida’s Republican Senator Marco Rubio got in political hot water when it was found he had embellished facts about his family’s emigration from Cuba. Rubio has since hit back with statements on his Facebook page and to Politico. He also went – where else? – to Fox News. In an interview recorded last week, Bill O’Reilly discussed the Post story tonight, questioned whether Rubio was the victim of a political hit job and spent a lot of time talking up his future as a possible VP or Presidential candidate. The only problem? Since the interview was recorded, more embellishments by Rubio have surfaced. There are also other lingering questions about his credibility that O’Reilly chose to ignore while gushing, instead, over Rubio’s future prospects. As for Rubio, he indicated he'd rather be a Fox News host.

In its expose, the Washington Post reported:

The supposed flight of Rubio’s parents has been at the core of the young senator’s political identity, both before and after his stunning tea-party-propelled victory in last year’s Senate election. Rubio — now considered a prospective 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate and a possible future presidential contender — mentions his parents in the second sentence of the official biography on his Senate Web site. It says that Mario and Oriales Rubio “came to America following Fidel Castro’s takeover.” And the 40-year-old senator with the boyish smile and prom-king good looks has drawn on the power of that claim to entrance audiences captivated by the rhetorical skills of one of the more dynamic stump speakers in modern American politics.

The real story of his parents’ migration appears to be a more conventional immigrant narrative, a couple who came to the United States seeking a better life. In the year they arrived in Florida, the future Marxist dictator was in Mexico plotting a quixotic return to Cuba.

Rubio told O’Reilly tonight that his parents’ earlier arrival in the U.S. was “irrelevant.” He said, “I don’t need to embellish my narrative. My narrative is very simple. I am the son of exiles and of immigrants and that has framed my political thought.”

Predictably, O’Reilly suggested the report was some kind of liberal media plot. “Some people say the Washington Post wanted to do a hit job on you because you’re a rising star in the Republican Party, possible VP candidate, under consideration,” he said.

To his credit, Rubio waved off that line of discussion.

He also quite adamantly ruled out being a vice presidential candidate (though Brit Hume dismissed that as window dressing in the next segment). But Rubio seemed to have something else in mind. As O’Reilly said he could see Rubio running for president in 10 years or sooner, Rubio said, “Or having a show here on Fox.”

One reason why Rubio might be thinking more about Fox and less about the White House is what is now becoming a fairly long list of questions about his character.

Rubio’s Politico statement says his mother and his older siblings went back to Cuba after Castro was in power “with the intention of moving back.” But an NPR report tonight found that at odds with the story Rubio told NPR when he was running for Senate. At that time, he said that his mother had gone back to Cuba to tend to his grandfather who had been injured in an accident.

Furthermore, NPR found that Social Security records show that his grandfather had emigrated to the U.S. the same year as Rubio’s parents.

None of that changes the fact that Rubio’s American Dream life story is impressive. But the ever-changing details that he can’t seem to nail down leave a bad taste.

As Steve Kornacki, in Salon.com wrote (via a quote from the Miami Herald’s Marc Caputo), Rubio’s real problem is sloppiness. Not surprisingly, his family history is not the only sloppiness in Rubio’s record:

A House Rubio co-owned wound up in foreclosure

In the summer before Rubio’s election to the senate, this supposed fiscal conservative received a previous dose of Fox News Republican Rehab when it was revealed that a house he co-owned was in foreclosure. A Rubio spokesman said the missed payments were the result of "confusion and disagreement" about the final amount owed.

Sloppy record keeping while Rubio was Florida House Speaker

In March, 2010, a St. Petersburg Times editorial stated,

Marco Rubio is quickly emerging as a freewheeling big spender of special interest cash even as the U.S. Senate candidate sells himself as a fiscal hawk. The latest disclosure: As the young state lawmaker lined up support in 2003 and 2004 to become Florida House speaker, he blew through more than $600,000 stashed in a pair of political committees and never detailed how at least 20 percent of the money was spent. The expenses the Miami Republican did disclose suggest the money frequently went to subsidize his lifestyle or to employ relatives — not to support other House candidates as his donors would have expected.

… The St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald review of Rubio's two committees show he never accounted for $34,000 spent — a violation of the law. Rubio claimed another $71,000 he spent was paid out in sums under $500, allowing him to avoid disclosing who was paid. And $51,000 went to three credit cards for unidentified "travel expenses." He also paid several family members for political work.

Rubio's campaign staffers claim that sloppy paperwork, not willful disregard of the law, is to blame.

In an earlier report from Feburary 2010, this one about Rubio’s use of a Republican party credit card for what looked like personal expenses, the St. Petersburg Times wrote,

Rubio's campaign could not find records to explain many of these expenses Wednesday night. But Rubio stressed that GOP staffers also may be responsible for some expenses, since they also had access to the credit card. Though Rubio said he tried to pay all his personal expenses, at least some ended up on the party ledger, records show.

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