In Tampa Marco Rubio defends his characterization of parents' flight from Cuba

10/27/11 Josh Holton
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Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio made his first official trip to the Tampa Bay Area today. The purpose of his visit was to field questions from the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce about policy in Washington D.C., but he came under fire for the ongoing scandal surrounding inconsistencies in his life story.

The second sentence of Marco Rubio’s biography posted on his website recently changed. That’s because he ran for election using a poignant family history, one in which his parents escaped a Castro ruled Cuba in 1959. The problem is, his parents came to the United States two and a half years before Castro took power.

One reason this is significant, is that he claimed his parents were political exiles, a cherished status for many in Florida. Rubio has been shaky on the details, saying that following the revolution his mother only returned for a few weeks in 1961, after telling NPR two years earlier that those few weeks had actually totaled nine months.

Despite claiming to be the son of exiled parents, Rubio would only say his parents came to the US for economic reasons.

Rubio has been a strong supporter of Arizona’s controversial immigration bill, SB 1070, and he has called immigration a public safety issue. He said that even though Cuban refugees might get welfare in the US, under the Cuban Adjustment Act, it is not a double standard when Haitians or other immigrants are denied those same benefits.

His parents spent 19 years in the US before naturalizing as US Citizens. And although his parents made several trips to Cuba after becoming residents, Rubio has made no such indication that he supports the ongoing flights between Tampa and Cuba.

Rubio spent much of his time with the chamber discussing foreign policy, jobs, health, and energy issues facing the nation. But he has most famously voted against raising the debt ceiling, one of the few alternatives to a default on US debt. Ironically Rubio went on to criticize some of the same harsh rhetoric from that debate, which in part caused the US credit rating to drop for the first time in history.

But that didn’t stop him from only minutes later bringing back out the same old guns when it comes to invoking fear about the national debt.

Last March Rubio said that raising the debt limit would “scare away job creators and lead to higher taxes, higher interest rates and greater inflation.” But Rubio said that such fear mongering rhetoric from both parties led to a drop in consumer confidence, and he went on to defend his comparison of that drop to the economic decline following 9/11.

Thanking the senator for his time, CEO of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Bob Rohrlack took a swing at the popular Occupy uprisings both nationwide, and locally.

Today’s stop was one of several for the Senator who spoke in Orlando this morning, and was on his way to speak in Fort Meyers this afternoon.

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