Uncut: Inside ‘The Rise of Marco Rubio’
Washington Post journalist Manuel Roig-Franzia details the emergence of one of the GOP's brightest stars in a new book
Jun 18, 2012
Washington Post journalist Manuel Roig-Franzia details the emergence of one of the GOP's brightest stars in a new book
Jun 18, 2012
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-- -- nice to see you create -- -- okay in the name of the book is the rise of Marco Rubio is he still ahead up port well no doubt.
And sky's the limit I would say.
What do have that you would just start and then as am I read your book I actually -- may have read the back with his background but actually though it's of the pivotal point this.
Political races when he beat governor Crist to get the nomination to become the US senate.
He was down -- so much -- holes I mean nobody would have given him a chance.
But he recognized some things that other people didn't recognize and one of them.
Was that he saw that the Tea Party was going to be a force.
A big force.
And you know it's weird when you look back at that race.
Charlie Crist actually tried to portray.
The Tea Party as extremists.
Marco Rubio was embracing the -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- When Chris announced that he was gonna run for US -- he was endorsed by senator McConnell and senator -- -- and both very influential Washington.
And pins and mark mark of them Marco Rubio -- -- senator Marco Rubio he had to senator Jim dement.
And that was huge for him.
And Mike Huckabee was also really -- but that was something else that I came across and talking with a lot of people is around that time.
When senator demands and when Mike Huckabee -- publicly.
Coming out for Marco Rubio.
There were a whole lot of establishment Republicans and many of them spoke to me about this confidentially.
Who had begin that had begun to have doubts about Crist.
And they were very quietly.
Moving over into the Marco Rubio camp and they were trying to figure out a way.
To sort of publicly distanced themselves from Crist but they had to do it slowly and methodically.
And I suppose that -- that governor Crist head.
President Obama didn't help governor Crist in this fight against them Marco Rubio big time.
They -- there's the rubio campaign team who would referred to it is Fort Myers but it took place.
If the if it what's critical they played it over and over again -- and television.
It it was symbolic of something it was more than just -- Hockey was about.
Hugging the Obama policies was about hugging health care was about hugging the stimulus.
And they did a tremendous job.
I was telling voters in Florida about that what it does to people Florida like -- he sees a national figure but take me back to his early days when he was.
Running for even for as a representative -- the people of Florida the Democrats like him for instance music can you work with people.
Yeah if it's interesting because.
In talking to people I found that there was a pattern with Marco Rubio.
And I came to think of it as almost an apprentice.
Marco Rubio is the kind of guy who when you meet and for the first time.
He he impresses you and he did that over and over again in his political career.
And he became essentially.
A professional apprentice he.
Take for example Jeb Bush Jeb Bush was the governor of Florida extremely powerful extremely popular.
Marco Rubio impressed Jeb Bush Jeb Bush.
Lifted him up and helped him get to the next level.
And he's continuing to help and today and I guess a resident hell I didn't hurt us senator rubio that.
Governor Crist and governor bush Jeb Bush -- -- and particularly fond of each other so that must help us in -- -- -- that -- in Florida you know what they called it.
Did when Charlie Crist was the governor.
They call -- that the of Florida and there were a lot of hurt feelings in the -- camp because -- was a very active governor.
Marco Rubio was a big partner of his.
In the legislature and getting their agenda through and when Charlie Crist came in there was a feeling that Charlie wasn't interested in what Jeb had to say.
And that he wasn't paying deference to him.
And that he was dismantling.
Some of the things that Janet put in place.
Why did we researched uncovered is this whole.
That -- but his background is that and correct me if I'm wrong but senator -- thought that his parents his family really she said publicist -- KD -- states and Cuba at a time different.
What was the story and what's the truth about his family yeah.
You know this was something that I really came across by chance.
I've -- through a lot of records to do this book.
And in the course of just doing some routine research about his family because he talks about spent only so much there's so critical to -- The core of this political identity -- across some records that said that his family came to the United States in 1956.
And that differed -- And story that senator rubio had been talking about for a long time which is that they had come over in 1959.
And that they had been forced to.
Leave the island because of Castro taking over you know does that change.
Who Marco Rubio is I don't think so.
I think that.
He is still a product of a community of people who feel -- I'll from Cuba either pushed off.
Or -- able to return his parents were unable to return but it was just one of those simple fact checking things that you do with our political foot.
-- stayed huge.
Surprised they would -- believe -- that information when you found it but what I -- was.
Up unwillingly fair in your book toward senator rubio were two things.
What has that you quoted some added a scholar who who Mark Cuban scholar crackdown rock.
Who said that the didn't make any difference because it's still use don't have the fear about going back and still -- your heritage so.
DSOs are put to rest the second thing is what you wrote in the afterward you quoted -- quoted him just that the -- into the thoughts about how.
And you have to address at the -- of the book but that day he himself says that that that discrepancy in the factor that -- -- blessing in disguise for him.
Yeah it it forced him to dig through old shoe boxes and look at all the records it forced him to.
Ask more questions than he had been asking them and then I'm I'm glad that.
You noticed that in the book because I want the book to be a fair.
Take on senator rubio who is an important figure in American politics right now.
And all lay out everything.
For people to make their their own judgments but I think that.
Do reference that you're talking about which is a statement that he made in his speech was really a sign of him trying to.
Embrace that controversy.
And and turn it into a positive which is something that he's been very good out throughout his political career.
What I -- expected that the book was going to be 1 I am.
Because any aggressive journalists I thought that there it was when the he would like you know it is nobody likes anything written about him.
But actually thought in reading the book that he would that he would like this himself.
Dizzy -- you know I don't.
I hope that he'll give it -- read I -- I hope that the two of us will be able to sit across a table and talk about it some time I think that there.
Are things in the book that I learned.
That weren't going to be news -- senator rubio particularly some of the things you know I.
I found a lot of really wonderful.
Documents about his family.
I mean old.
Documents that were written out in hand by.
Government officials in tiny little towns in Cuba and and it was if his family his grandfather his.
-- -- that they popped off the got to know -- you know his grandfather was.
To -- an illiterate.
Single mother in a very small town in -- sugar cane region -- -- it's remarkable to think.
That to generations later.
The son of someone who was born underneath a thatched roof and it says it right there in the documents -- thatched roof.
Is now in the United States senate and now being talked about as someone who could be vice president or president of the United States of America.
All those documents just brought all that life for me.
He talks is great enthusiasm about two you know we're his family you know his his origin and -- -- and just to where he is not right now I'm in in Houston appreciate -- speeches.
His appreciation of the United States an opportunity when you feel that seven and that enthusiasm when you listen and speak.
They I mean he talked about American except socialism.
As as much as any other political figure in the United States today.
He talks about the American.
Immigrant miracle that has occurred and he is giving voice to an eloquent -- out my dad.
To the dreams a whole lot of people who come to this country looking to make their lives better and his parents.
Who came here looking for a better life and his grandfather.
Who also came here looking for a better life there -- examples of that.
Thousands there's there's a discussion book about where there was it got pretty heated with -- the with a network.
Spanish network about his brother in law.
And I couldn't figure out why that's in a blue upbeat talk about it in great detail in the book.
Because of it what he wasn't the one who was accused of some sort of drug to 45 years it was a brother in law.
Yet that became -- -- -- huge -- hot in Florida for him with another network.
He -- -- referring to his when he ABC own.
Which is that.
Spanish speaking language network and in a lot of places I didn't know this before I started working -- the book.
In a lot of places -- NBC -- beats ABC CBS.
In the prime time rating so -- -- force.
And they did a story that.
Said that senator -- -- brother in law 25 years ago 25 years senator himself not the senator himself had been.
Arrested in -- in a big drug case and it really bothered senator rubio and it really bothered his staff.
And they fought back against that by.
Revealing to the local paper there that they felt they had been shaken down by the network -- And I think -- and the book at us and inches at one of the reasons you suggested that senator bill was upset it was because -- mother was upset because it was the sister.
And it was -- my sister's husband and his mother was watching the news every now -- watch this network was seen 25 years later than the brother -- sister's husband was.
And slapped around -- -- you know.
The sister aunt lives with with his mother has -- elderly is father.
Died during this 2010 campaign I should add that when ABC -- the network.
And denies that they were trying to shake him down and all -- -- regardless of who's.
Core cracked what's interesting about this is it was sort of a barometer immediate test right because.
If if senator rubio is put on a national ticket he'll get more.
Controversy was immediate test that -- to be soon as the media.
Test and sometimes he and his staff have had a tendency.
To be a little thin skinned in these situations.
A few Republican and kingmaker types -- told me sort of quietly that they.
They wished that he had tone goes down a little bit.
But I think they'll be important lessons for him this as as he moves forward because the scrutiny only gets.
-- tougher and tougher.
You know how it is Washington's a tough town -- talking about being 16100 Pennsylvania Avenue the microscope gets.
Really ratcheted down.
-- one thing that I learned here our motion that was -- is that should he be placed on the ticket with governor Romney.
Is that he was -- short period time as a child -- about age five to ten maybe he was a member of the Mormon Church.
Yeah yeah got that's one really one of the most interesting things about his trajectory.
They were Catholics in Miami.
And before they went to Las Vegas.
Senator Rudy is -- Whose name is -- stance and she has a political -- to he is a Democrat.
In the Nevada legislature in a very important -- And the -- is are mormons and they brought the -- family into the Mormon church and senator ruby has always been interest and religion even as a child.
And he embraced -- whole heartedly.
Came a big fan of the osmond's.
Went to all the meetings.
Went with his cousins to see the -- studio.
Once a year.
And that was this sort of formative moment he's talked about those days -- in Nevada in Las Vegas -- some of the best years of -- of his life.
But then they return to the Catholic Church at -- what age 12% in about two as a teenager yes and the what's interesting is that his his religious life is complicated because.
And then Mormon.
And then Catholic again but then his wife.
And her family.
And members of an evangelical Protestant church in Florida and senator rubio also enjoys attending that.
Yet he has always felt and people who are close to him and our spiritual of -- -- of his people who are confidence and that will have told me that he never felt comfortable.
Completely leaving behind.
And he's still identifies as a Catholic -- Washington he has said that he goes to mass every day.
Is -- -- in what do what I got from mean that is cities in man of great faith.
And a man -- -- who has -- searching for you know where he felt most comfortable -- the way they describe it's -- face -- As a face -- right -- it as a as a young man and this is strange state and I didn't know this beef before or researching this book that there isn't any.
And and an even smaller percentage to regularly attend.
More than one religion and he seems to fall into that smaller category.
I take it that we knew a lot less about him before -- start reading the book and read a research -- -- right -- -- -- by the time we get to the end was there any sort of great surprised.
Like how I didn't know that our or -- you something that you learned about him.
You know there were there were Sony.
Any surprises along the way.
-- -- -- to think that he was this young man who was.
Going to high school in South Miami.
And it was pop culture that was just.
That textile experience.
And she was really influenced by all of those young kids who came out and he felt and he send.
That sometimes he felt like he was almost two American and he was teased a little bit about that it's weird to hear it here that.
I'm and then you know he went to college sent to play football that was another thing that was sort of -- -- -- -- -- a complete sort of Coulter Missouri -- in Missouri Missouri got a very small college called -- -- Where he felt like he was really separated.
Who he wise kind it was it was it was hard for him because it was.
Tiny little town yet I think the thing that found that struck me most of -- in the book and the different -- a portion is them.
It said in an -- page down where you -- right.
But behind the scenes many Democrats this when he was in the in Florida State politics.
But behind the scenes many Democrats considered rubio someone with whom they could work.
You know and I thought that if that if your if your opponents that you don't agree but Celek who we -- work I thought that was.
Some very significant.
-- the minority leader at the time was a guy named Dan Gilbert is a very engaging Democrat from Miami Beach and here he told me this great story he said that.
At at at the at the beginning of the legislative session he win any asked Marco who.
Was the speaker of the house and have all this power because it was this huge majority.
He asked him for a few little things and he didn't expect to get any of them do little things like control -- parking spaces and offices and that sort of stuff.
Marco gave him everything that he -- it because he understood that those things didn't really matter in the long term.
He had such a big majority but it helped those two sort of forge a bit of a bond -- Get a few things done across the -- that they might not have been able to get done.
-- -- less Wear panties and for the viewers that.
Is what did mr.
-- recently with pictures of his family that's the tees yet read the people the viewers have to read -- -- book and get that.
When my favorite part is very integrated part anyway Manuel thank you and good luck it's the rise of Marco Rubio thank you man -- It's a pleasure.
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