Top 10 Facts About Marco Rubio

Top 10 Facts About Marco Rubio: Cover photo credit Albert H. Teich /

Who is Marco Rubio?  For many people outside of the State or not connected with the GOP the junior senator from Florida was a surprise candidate for the Republican primary.  Those who know him a little better, however, would not be surprised that he put his name forward.  Even in 2012, just two years after his election to the US Senate he was seen as a potential new hope for the Republican Party and was even vetted by Mitt Romney as a potential running mate in that year.

Marco Rubio, however, decided to remain in the background at that time, perhaps sensing that an Obama victory was assured and not wishing to be tainted with defeat and was quite clear that he had no interest in running for the presidency or vice-presidency in 2012 stating that he became a US Senator because he truly wanted that job, not because he wanted to use it as a stepping stone to higher office.  He changed his position rather quickly, however, as by 2014 key advisors were working on his ‘Reclaim America’ PAC raising money for data analysis and by early 2015 he was courting major donors ahead of his April 2015 announcement that he was going to run.

Marco Rubio may not be leading the field, that honor falls to Donald Trump at the current time but he is still a serious contender and, in the event he does not win the nomination is likely to be approached to run as vice-president as he could help deliver the key Latin American votes and, of course, bring with him the important Florida vote.

With that in mind here is our unbiased and politically neutral list of 10 things you really should know about Marco Rubio.

  1. Marco Rubio Is A Cuban American – One Of Only Three Latin Americans Serving In the Senate

Marco Rubio. Cuban!
Marco Rubio. Cuban!

Marco Rubio was born in 1971 to a family that had immigrated from Cuba to the United States in 1956.  Following their move to the United States the family returned to Cuba at least four times including for a month in 1961.  His family were still Cuban nationals at the time of his birth and were only naturalized in 1975, four years after his birth.  His grandfather had joined his parents in the US but was ordered to be deported some time before he was born.  Instead of complying with the deportation order Marco Rubio’s grandfather decided to remain in the US.

Following a successful career in Florida state politics he ran, successfully, for the US Senate in 2010.  He is currently one of only three Latin American senators.

  1. Marco Rubio Has Been Less Than Honest About His Family Background In The Past

Marco Rubio told a white lie.
Marco Rubio told a white lie.

Marco Rubio’s Cuban roots play very well with the Latin American lobby which is an increasingly powerful force in US politics and, of course, particularly so in Florida.  In 2011 Marco Rubio was caught in a lie.  It seems that he had been embellishing his family story to make it sound both more dramatic and more appealing to voters.  He had been telling people that his parents were forced to flee from Castro’s regime when it came to power in 1959 (the reality is the 1956 set out above) and that when his mother and sister returned to care for his grandfather after an accident they were refused permission to leave the country and had to wait 9 months to get out (they were only in Cuba for a month).

Of course it may be that he made a genuine mistake.  Younger children can often get the wrong end of the stick when hearing family stories of the times before they were born and such stories are often told without reference to dates.  This is certainly how Marco Rubio has defended himself from the allegations that he made a deliberate attempt to gain political traction from his family story.  Nevertheless it would have been sensible to check the truth of any narrative with his family before posting it as fact online!

  1. He Became A Florida House Of Representatives Majority Whip And Then Majority Leader Shortly After His Initial Election Success

Marco Rubio. Trust me I'm Cuban.
Marco Rubio. Trust me I’m Cuban.

In 1999 Marco Rubio won (barely) the Republican nomination for a safe Republican seat in the Florida House of Representatives that had fallen vacant due to the incumbent running for state senate.  He won the election for the remainder of the term of the seat and subsequently won four full terms unopposed serving nine years in the Florida House of Representatives.  During these nine years he continued to work in the law.  He has never made a secret of his desire to hold power and high office and was making moves towards leadership almost from the moment of his election.

Luckily for Marco Rubio his election coincided with the imposition of new term limits that cleared away a lot of more experienced legislators leaving openings in leadership positions.  By late 2000, after serving less than a year he had been appointed Majority Whip.  It appears that he fulfilled the duties of whip, not through the traditional coercion but instead relied on his powers of persuasion to great effect.

He made attempts to be appointed House Leader in 2001 but he was deemed too inexperienced.  He was not to be disappointed for long, however, as he achieved his aim in 2002.  He immediately persuaded the Speaker to change the job description for Majority Leader to allow him to concentrate on acting as the voice for the House GOP leaving all legislative arm twisting to the whips.  This would allow him to maintain friendship and support in a push to become House Speaker.

  1. Marco Rubio Was The First Cuban American To Be Speaker Of The Florida House Of Representatives

Marco Rubio very young and very successful.
Marco Rubio very young and very successful.

In 2005, when he was only 34 Marco Rubio was chosen to be the future Speaker of the Florida House Of Representatives.  He was sworn in a year later in November 2006 and held the post for a period of 2 years.  He was the first Cuban American to hold this position although he was the second to contest it.

In his acceptance speech Marco Rubio told members of the house to look at their desks, each one was presented with a book entitled 100 Innovative Ideas For Florida’s Future but inside it was blank with Rubio asking the representatives to speak with their constituents and use their ideas to fill in the book.  The book was finally compiled and published and of the 100 ideas contained therein Marco Rubio claims that 57 made it onto the statute books.  In fact about 24 became law such as more vocational courses in High School and car registrations for multiple years.  Aspects of a further 10 were enacted in part.

Whether or not all the ideas became law Marco Rubio was praised for his innovative approach that focused on listening to the wants and needs of ordinary Floridians and searching for ways to put them into action.  He pushed this people-centric agenda in the House as well, delegating and listening to others and working closely with the Democrats when needed.  He was also known to take the time to sit down with members of the House for lunch taking the time to show an interest in their bills, hopes and concerns rather than remaining aloof.

  1. Marco Rubio Has His Own Law Firm And Lectures At the Florida International University; He Has Also Been Embroiled In An Expenses Scandal

Marco Rubio's haircuts. Don't worry, he's worth it.
Marco Rubio’s haircuts. Don’t worry, he’s worth it.

During his four terms of office in the Florida House of Representatives he continued to work, first for a Miami based law firm and then for a high profile law and lobby firm, Broad & Cassell (although he was prevented by law from lobbying on behalf of clients).  When he left office he started his own law firm and became an adjunct professor at Florida International University shortly before his election to the Senate where he teaches when the Senate is not in session.  He is popular with students who say he remains politically unbiased when teaching.  There was some level of political scandal surrounding the appointment on the basis that it was as a result of FIU receiving preferential treatment during Marco Rubio’s term of office but it has been cleared by ethics committees and Marco Rubio raises most of the money to fund his position through private donations.

The FIU appointment is not the only financial scandal to have dogged Marco Rubio’s political career.  During his time as Speaker he was known to have charged certain personal items (including a $130 haircut) to his Republican Party credit card given to him solely for use on party business.  The issue was scrutinized by the Florida Commission on Ethics and he was cleared of intentional wrongdoing but they claimed that he exhibited ‘negligence’ in his use of the card in place of his own personal one.  Billing records, released recently show that in the majority of cases all personal charges were reimbursed to the party card by the next billing period.

  1. Marco Rubio Beat A Former Governor To Win The Republican Nomination For The United States Senate

I like to think that Marco Rubio is involved with this Tea Party. Seems like a lot more fun.
I like to think that Marco Rubio is involved with this Tea Party. Seems like a lot more fun.

In 2009 Mel Martinez announced that he would be resigning from the United States Senate seat.  Marco Rubio almost immediately announced his decision to run for the vacancy, it became clear that he had planned the move for some time and had already been meeting with supporters and potential fundraisers to gather support for his nomination.

His bid came as something of a surprise as it was initially seen to be the turn of former governor Charlie Crist to try his hand at the Senate but the Governor and Marco Rubio had clashed badly during his time as Speaker of the House of Representatives and Marco Rubio felt no sense of loyalty to him.  Initially, however, Marco Rubio found support hard to come by and was trailing for the nomination by a number of points.  In order to gain support Marco Rubio turned to the Tea Party for support, many of whom felt that Charlie Christ had been too sympathetic to the Democrats (he had embraced Obama’s economic stimulus plan) and that he was too much in favor of ‘big government’.

Such was the falling out between Charlie Christ and Republican supporters that he decided to run without party affiliation a move which lost him a lot of key support both in terms of donors and campaign staff.  This effectively made Marco Rubio the Republican candidate and he won the race with an overwhelming 49% of the vote.

  1. Marco Rubio Has Voted Against Gun Control Measures

Marco Rubio loves guns.
Marco Rubio loves guns.

Marco Rubio has stated, repeatedly, that he believes that the right to bear arms, as enshrined in the second amendment, is the ‘cornerstone of our democracy’ and that it is a fundamental human right of all citizens to defend themselves.  He himself has a concealed weapons permit but he rarely carries because, he claims, he spends too much time in places such as airports or the Capitol where carrying is not necessarily permitted.

In 2013 he came out very strongly against proposals to expand background checks on gun purchases because, he claimed, they would be ineffective because criminals, by definition do not follow the law because they are, by definition, law breakers.  As such expanded background checks would only impact on law abiding citizens.

He is, nevertheless, not seen as 100% supportive by the NRA who have given him a B+ rating (meaning he is seen as a generally pro-firearms candidate but has voted in favor of some gun control issues in the past).  This rating is probably due to the fact that during his time as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives he had the opportunity to push forward a law to permit guns in the workplace but did not.  At the time the NRA complained that he ‘talked the talk but didn’t walk the walk’.

  1. Marco Rubio Does Not Believe in Anthropogenic Global Warming

Marco Rubio a climate change denier.
Marco Rubio a climate change denier.

Marco Rubio is not seen as a leader in the fight to protect the environment with the League of Conservation Voters giving him a 9% score for his voting record on issues pertaining to climate and the environment.  In 2014 he made his stance quite clear when he said that ‘humans are not responsible for climate change in the way some of these people out there are trying to make us believe’.

He has been consistent in his beliefs which, broadly put state that the climate may or may not be changing but there is no scientific consensus that the change is driven by human activity.  Any attempts to regulate such activity would therefore be of little benefit and would only serve to impact on the economy of the United States.  As such he has made it clear that he believes the United States should not follow policies designed to promote a clean energy industry.  He has undertaken to reverse Obama’s plan to reduce carbon emissions and, at the same time, proposes to overhaul the energy regulatory system as reducing restrictions will result in lower prices and an increase in employment.

  1. Marco Rubio Is Against Abortion Even In Cases Of Rape And Incest

Marco Rubio loves babies. I'm sure he's adopting some new ones this year.
Marco Rubio loves babies. I’m sure he’s adopting some new ones this year.

Marco Rubio is a Catholic and is a strongly pro-life candidate.  While he acknowledges that a woman’s right to an abortion is currently the law it is also a law with which he disagrees.

He has made some quite trenchant and passionate statements on the issue setting out that he believes that life begins at conception and that every human being is entitled to the protection of the laws of the United States.  He has said that ‘future generations will look back at this history of our country and call us barbarians for murdering millions of babies who we never gave them a chance to live’.  In line with this stance he co-sponsored a Senate bill to ban all abortions after 20 weeks with exceptions where the life of the mother is at risk or in cases of rape or incest.

He personally, however, would like to see the ban extended even further.  During his time in the Florida House of Representatives he pushed for legislation that would require an ultrasound prior to any abortion and has stated that he personally feels that there should be no abortion, even in cases of rape or incest.  He disagrees with the Roe v Wade decision believing it to be flawed and opposed the appointment of fellow Latin American Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court based on, amongst other things, her support for the decision.

He has supported exemptions from the provision of birth control for religious organizations saying that it is a matter of conscience and religious liberties not contraception or woman’s rights and that no organization should be forced to pay for something with which they disagree so vehemently.  He has also voted against funding for all stem cell research (not only embryonic stem cells but adult and umbilical cell research as well) which could, potentially, revolutionize the future of medicine.

  1. He Was Close Friends With Jeb Bush Who Once Gave Him A Sword


Marco Rubio worked closely with Jeb Bush during the time that the latter was Governor of Florida.  In the past the two men have described their relationship as one of a mentor/protégé with Jeb Bush as the mentor and Marco Rubio as the protégéAt one stage in their relationship Jeb Bush publically presented Marco Rubio with a sword he claimed belonged to a mythical warrior named Chang who had never let him down (it seems that this evolved out of a Bush family ‘in joke’ about Chiang Kai Shek).  At the time it was seen as a symbolic passing of a legacy from Jeb Bush to Marco Rubio with the former naming the latter as his political successor.  It may have meant more to Jeb Bush than Marco Rubio.  It was once on display in his office but he now says he has the sword ‘at home somewhere’.

Whether or not the friendship was real (and it could very well have been a PR exercise) any relationship that does exist will be hard pressed to survive the Republican Primary process that has become increasingly fraught and which has seen Marco Rubio’s support grow while Jeb Bush’s has crashed.  While the pair tried to maintain a show of friendship for much of the Primary process they have recently started to clash more publically with Marco Rubio coming out on top.

Marco Rubio is younger and comes without the negative baggage of being related to two unpopular previous presidents.  He also appeals directly to the very influential Hispanic community unlike Jeb Bush whose contact with them exists through his wife.

Marco Rubio is seen by many as the Barack Obama of the Republican Party.  There are certain parallels between the two.  Both are young, both from minority groups and both have sought a presidential nomination relatively early in their careers.  Indeed many question whether, aged just 44, Marco Rubio has sufficient experience to be a serious contender for the presidency.  In response to this he points out that he has had significant leadership experience during his time in Tallahassee, much more, in fact than Barack Obama had prior to his election.

A gifted orator and superb fundraiser he is seen by many as the acceptable face of the Republican right.  It is wise, however, to remember that he gained his election to the Senate thanks to support from the Tea Party and he espouses many of their beliefs.  He is a strong proponent of the right to bear arms, vehemently opposed to abortion, wants to make significant changes to the tax system to boost income, particularly for the poorest in society and has made it clear that he will not reform America’s energy industry to protect against climate change which he states is not caused by humans.

He has proved himself a ruthless operator, ready to position himself early on for the very best chance at career progression and ready to step over his former colleagues in order to do so.  He is a man to watch in all senses of the word!

What do you think?  Tell us in the comments below.  And be sure to check out the Top 10 Facts About Jeb Bush, Marco’s mentor!