To my readers: Please note that I did not compile this summary of Marco Rubio's book "An American Son". A fellow patriot and longtime online friend is an avid Rubio fan who is actively working on getting Marco Rubio support for the next presidential election.
Dear Fellow Friends of Marco. Following is a 3,900 word summary of Marco Rubio’s 80,000 word memoir, “An American Son,” a truly remarkable book. Obtain the hardcover version through Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Here's a key excerpt -- please share it:
Marco Rubio in "An American Son" discussing his upset victory against Gov. Charlie Crist for the FL US Senate seat: "I was on the verge of receiving a truly special privilege. The son and grandson of immigrants and exiles, I was entrusted with the hopes of my fellow citizens, with the dreams they had for their children. I carried the stories of the people who had come to believe in me, who didn't care how far behind I was in the polls, who didn't think I was crazy to run against a popular and powerful incumbent governor, who didn't believe anything was inevitable in America. They wanted me to make a difference--to go to Washington and stand up for them . . . . They believed in me, and I believed in them."
Key events in Marco’s life:
Position: US Senator from FL since Jan., 2010
Earlier Positions: Speaker, FL House, 1/02/07 – 1/02/09
Member of FL House, 01/25/2008- 01/02/09
City Commissioner West Miami, FL, 1998-2000
Born: Marco Antonio Rubio, American citizen, 05/28/1971 (now 41)
Place of Birth: Miami, FL
Married to: Jeanette Doubesdes, from Miami, of Columbian descent
Children: 4, two girls (Amanda & Daniella), two younger boys (Anthony & Dominic)
Marco’s Alma Mater: Univ. of FL, BA; Univ. of Miami, Juris Doctor
Religion: Ages 8-11, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints (Mormon), now Roman Catholic – also attends Christ Fellowship Protestant Church
Web Site: www.rubio.senate.gov
In Cuba, Marco’s father, Mario Rubio, at age 22, married Oriales Garcia, age 18, on April 28, 1949, ten years before Castro’s Communist takeover. Lacking education and connections, the Rubios faced the prospects of a life of hardship..
Hearing that jobs were plentiful in America, the Rubios left Cuba in May, 1956, for America. As each family member arrived in America, they would save up to bring another one to America for about $500 each. As Castro was establishing himself in the Sierra Maestra Mountains, grandfather Rubio and other family members emigrated to the U.S.
In October 2011, the St. Petersburg Times and Washington Post reported that Marco’s previous statements that his parents were forced to leave Cuba in 1959, after Fidel Castro came to power, were incorrect. They had in fact first left Cuba in 1956 during Fulgenci Batista’s dictatorship.
Marco responded, ". . . [M]y family's story is not about the date my parents first entered the United States. Or even the date they left Fidel Castro's Cuba forever and permanently settled here. The essence of my family story is why they came to America in the first place; and why they had to stay."
The Times and the Post missed the point. The Rubios had left Cuba permanently after Castro came to power. For example, Marco’s grandfather had returned to Cuba after Batista’s fall and “intended to stay there for the rest of his life.” He didn’t.
Also, in the summer of 1960, Marco’s parents arrived back in Cuba from America. But Mr. Rubio’s brother Emilio warned him of Castro’s reign of terror, jailing dissidents, closing opposition newspapers, radio stations, and TV outlets. Marco’s father left and never returned again. Marco’s mother returned once and was almost forced to stay in Cuba.
In America, Mr. and Mrs. Rubio experienced what Marco calls “a typical first-generation immigrant experience,” one of “hardship, menial labor, sacrifice, scrimping, and heartache” for the country they’d left behind.
Mr. Rubio worked into his 70s as a banquet bartender, while Mrs. Rubio worked as a hotel maid in Las Vegas and a Kmart stock clerk in Miami.
When his father was 45 and his mother 41, Marco was born in Miami, FL, on May 28, 1971. His sister, Veronica, was born the next year. The older parents doted on the young children.
Marco admits his parents “spoiled” their young children. On the positive side, that gave the children a “sense of stability and security” that can become a lifetime source of confidence. Marco never spent a day not believing he was loved and that he didn’t believe “I could make my life whatever I wanted it to be.”
Yet there’s a negative side to being the apple of your parents’ eyes. Marco admits he’s struggled, as an adult “to learn to subordinate [his] own desires to the needs of others – a quality indispensable to a mature and lasting happiness.”
He adds, “I can still be selfish with my time and attention . . . But [his wife] Jeanette wouldn’t indulge my bad behavior . . . She lets me know instantly when I am shirking my most important responsibility [to his family]. At times, Marco can be his own worst critic, an unusual trait for a major political figure.
His older brother Mario had been a star quarterback at high school football powerhouse Miami High. Marco loved the Miami Dolphins as a child – and still does.
At age 8, when the Rubios lived in Las Vegas, Marco and some members of his family attended The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints (Mormon). At age 11, Marco returned to the Roman Catholic Church. It was not a rejection of the LDS Church, but rather an almost gravitational/spiritual/familial pull toward Catholicism.
Marco observes, “[T]he Mormon Church provided the sound moral structure my mother had wanted for us, and a circle of friends from stable, God-fearing families. When we left the church, we did so with gratitude for its considerable contribution to our happiness . . . .”
Devoutly Roman Catholic, Marco also attends Southern Baptist services [Christ Fellowship Church] with his wife and daughters. That's true, and it suggests this man (and his family) is more complicated spiritually than your garden-variety political figure.
On experiencing different faith traditions, Marco says, “I don't think you can go to church too often or spend too much time in fellowship with other Christians, whatever denomination they confess.". . .
Marco played football in high school on a team with mostly Black athletes. He also played football on scholarship at a small college in Missouri – Tarkio. Then, he returned to Florida, where he attended Santa Fe Community College and the University of Florida in Gainesville. Later, he attended the University of Miami Law School, where he graduated cum laude (with honors) with a “juris doctor” degree.
While studying at Miami Law, Marco in 1996 ran the Dole presidential campaign office in Miami’s Little Havana. Once, he served as a Dole surrogate in a debate on a Miami Spanish-language radio station. Inexperienced in debates, he was ill-prepared and performed poorly. Learning from failure, Marco vowed in the future to make certain he “was the best-prepared person in the room.” No more failures.
Marco’s boyhood ambition had been to be an NFL football player for his beloved Miami Dolphins. That hope took a strange twist when Jeanette, winning over many competitors, made the Dolphins’ cheerleading squad. Marco’s wry response: “When we have kids, I can tell them that ONE of their parents had made it onto an NFL field.”
On Marco and Jeanette’s marriage: “Marriage [is] a real-world union in which two people agree before God to share . . . all of themselves with each other, the good and the bad. . . . Jeanette and I have faced the bad as well as the good.” He adds, “She has accepted a [political] life she never wanted, only because she believes the influence I can have on important issues is worth the sacrifice she makes.”
Always fascinated by politics, Marco decided in 1998 to run for a town council seat in West Miami, a town of 5,000 residents, the vast majority of them Cuban-Americans. The best way for a relative unknown like Marco to reach the people was by walking neighborhoods and knocking on every door. This was the beginning of Marco’s one-on-one politics, an approach at which he excels.
In talking to hundreds of older Cuban-Americans, Marco realized he was doing more than discussing issues. The exiles, he says, “had lost everything: their youth, their culture, [and] their country.” Now, they were asking themselves about the meaning and purpose of their lives.
Who was this young, ambitious Marco Rubio to West Miamians? He discovered: “My success, and the success of any Cuban American of my generation, was their answer.”
In his West Miami days, Marco believed – as he does not – that Big Government “crowds out the individual initiative and risk-taking entrepreneurism that are the engine(s) of our prosperity and the essence of Americans’ problem-solving genius.” Government functions best “when it listens to the people, and responds to their concerns effectively . . . .”
In 2000, Marco was elected to the Florida House of Representatives. In a tough run-off primary for the seat, he found himself outside a polling place on Election Day bone-tired and uncertain of his chances. He retreated to his car “for a few minutes [to] feel sorry for myself.” He looked out the window and saw Jeanette – six month’s pregnant – asking one voter after another to vote for her husband..
It caused him to look back to the homily at his wedding, when the priest had said that love is not a feeling, but rather an action. Marco says, “I saw Jeanette’s love in action, and I knew if I lost that night, I would be fine.” He went back to join Jeanette. .
In 2004, as a member of the Florida House on his way to becoming Speaker, Marco closed his political committee, which had become “an accounting mess.” A rather sloppy record-keeper, he realized that the money pouring in after he had gained the votes necessary to be speaker “had to be carefully accounted for and wisely spent.”
In addition, Rubio listened to House members frustrated over how the House had been managed – and their lack of influence on policies. The members insisted on an end to top-down management – and Rubio listened. He says, “I agreed with them, and assured them that as speaker I would leave it to members to create and pursue policy priorities, while I oversaw the management of their agenda.”
Marco devised a leadership structure that would give members more power. He note, “I was influenced by Jim Collins’ book GOOD TO GREAT and his advice that a leader’s most important function was to get the right people on the bus and assign them seats where there they would make the best use of their talents.”
He continues, “I also wanted the House to become a vibrant laboratory of ideas, a place that conceived and pursued big, bold policy ideas,” with Marco says, “I traveled the state over the next two years, joining other members at events with voters we called ‘Idearaisers.’ “
“We picked the best ideas [the voters]offered and turned them into a contract with Florida, which later [was] published and titled ‘100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future.’” The Florida legislature ended up passing 57 of the 100 ideas into law.
Speaker of the Florida House was an important position, but soon, Marco had something bigger in mind: the U.S. Senate.
Marco was thinking about politics on a national level. He believed in the Obama Era “that the country needed to return to the principles of limited government and the American free-enterprise system. . . . [T]he Republican Party needed to make that argument and counter the president’s policies.”
Marco began speaking to every Republican Group that would have him. One invitation led to another. He says, “I felt like a preacher on the circuit, delivering the Republican sermon on small government and free enterprise.” It was a message that resonated with Republicans.
On top of the banking and insurance industry bailouts, the Stimulus “was one step too many toward an era of big government and potential financial ruin.” Marco’s opposition to the Stimulus Bill led to his being asked to speak to the new “Tea Party” groups, libertarian and conservative activists committed to reducing federal spending.
Marco and the Tea Partiers hit it off very well. He says, “My experience has been that the vast majority of the people you will meet at Tea Party rallies are regular folks from all walks of life . . . [and] were genuinely frightened by the country’s direction and felt compelled to speak out in opposition.”
The Tea Party’s influence was fuelled by the rise of social media. That gave activists “the means to communicate [their] fears and organize their opposition” without operating within the confines of traditional political parties. Using Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, and texts, anyone could become a political organizer.
Marco needed every resource, organizational and financial, he could get. His opponent in the Republican Primary would be Florida’s 800-pound gorilla, political powerhouse and Governor Charlie Crist.
Should Marco run for the U.S. or for a high state office – perhaps attorney-general or perhaps governor? But in his speeches and thoughts, he found himself increasingly drawn to national issues – especially Obama’s bloated $800 billion Stimulus Package. Marco saw in the legislation too many “typical pork barrel excesses that wouldn’t do anything to encourage economic growth.” In contrast, Gov. Charlie Crist was a big supporter of the Stimulus Bill.
As Governor, Crist made a crucial mistake. When Obama came to Ft. Myers, FL, touting the Stimulus, Charlie was there leading the cheers. He also gave Obama a big hug. That image – called “The Hug” -- would be used repeatedly by Marco in the Senate campaign.
But did Marco have a chance to defeat Florida’s political powerhouse, Gov. Crist? Most of the experts – and nearly every member of the GOP establishment – said, “No!” Marco was relatively unknown; he lacked a fundraising network; he’d never run a statewide campaign – whereas in one decade Crist had won four statewide races. If Marco ran and lost, his political career probably would come to an unhappy end.
At the beginning of his Senate campaign, Marco couldn’t avoid a negative assessment of his chances. Frankly, he didn’t think he could raise enough money to win, especially in a state where heavy – and costly -- media advertising is essential.
Two factors kept Marco from dropping out. One was Jeanette, not a fan of politics but a big believer in her husband what he stands for.
Another was his belief that God should be the ultimate determinant of our important life choices. Marco says, “[God] wanted me to believe that whatever happened He loved me and would give me the strength and peace of mind to endure it."
Many people looked at Florida as a “moderate” state in a country that was itself becoming increasingly moderate. Marco, a conservative, begged to differ. He “was frustrated . . . by the failure of Republicans to counter the left-ward drift in Washington with distinctly conservative solutions to our national problems. He didn’t believe that to win Republicans had to become more like Democrats.
He believes conservatism is the solution to our nation’s problems. “Conservatism is not about leaving people behind. Conservatism is about allowing people to catch up.”
Marco Rubio clearly recognized that Crist and what he represented was not his only opponent. He was also running against – especially in a policy sense – the other participant in “The Hug”: Barack Hussein Obama. He firmly believed that, despite Obama’s big win in 2008, the American people still believed in limited government and a free market economy.
When Spanish language channel Univision asked him why he thought he could win, Marco said, “Races of this magnitude are decided by who presents a clearer picture of the future, and I intend to do that.” Marco believes that a strong messages leads to growing support, which leads to contributions. History has proven he’s right.
Just before Gov. Crist announced for the FL Senate seat, the Rubio Campaign released a web video saying: “An election coming into focus. A choice for Florida’s future. Some politicians support trillions in reckless spending, borrowed money from China and the Middle East, mountains of debt for our children and a terrible threat to a fragile economy. Today, too many politicians embrace Washington’s same old broken ways. [Cue image of Crist embracing Obama.] But this time, there is a leader who won’t. Let the debate begin. Marco 2010.”
When he saw the commercial, Marco sent an e-mail to his political consultants. It said, “I just ran this on my computer and three things happened. 1. I got chills. 2. My wife and children painted themselves up in blue face like Braveheart. 3. I went to the closet and got out my costume from Gladiator, and I could hear the crowd chant: Maximus! Maximus! Maximus!”
Early in the Senate battle, Marco demonstrated once again that he is a relentless campaigner. He traveled every day but Sunday. He stayed in supporters’ guest rooms to save money. He talked on his cell phone so much that he developed a sore on his ear. Meanwhile, Crist was raising huge amounts of money and chalking up a seemingly endless list of endorsements.
His run for the Senate seat often seemed to be a hopeless cause. But he vowed to be as tenacious and courageous as his grandfather and father had been. He thought of his crippled grandfather looking for work, “rejected humiliated, ignored. He had never quit. He had never given in to self-pity.”
With the pundits almost uniformly saying he couldn’t win, Marco reflected, “Maybe I couldn’t be a U.S. Senator . . . . But I could be something more. I could be more like the better men who had raised me and taught me what it takes to be a good man.”
Marco’s story of his courageous immigrant parents and grandfather became a major theme of his campaign. Presumably, it would also be so in his campaign for the presidency.
As always, whenever Marco got too “up” or too “down,” his wife Jeanette helped him temper his emotions with her tough love. For example, Marco heard George Will on ABC predict that he would win the primary. “Jeanette came into the room and I excitedly told her the news. ‘That’s nice,’ she said, then handed me a bag of garbage and asked me to take it outside.”
Marco’s view is that he is never “good enough.” He’s fixated on his need to keep getting better – to learn from his mistakes and to reduce his weaknesses. For example, here’s how he saw himself early in the Senate campaign.
“After a miserable month of sharp attacks and tough scrutiny, I had performed well in my first debate. In preparing for it, I had been forced to recognize my deficiencies and try to become a better candidate and person.
He continues, “I learned to listen to tough criticism and take it in stride without losing my temper. Our tough campaign was making me a better candidate, and if I won, it would have prepared me to be a better leader. It began to occur to me that God might be using the campaign to make me aware of my weaknesses and more humble because of them.”
What makes “An American Son” a unique political book is that Marco consistently takes a hard look at himself – his character and his resolve. On several occasions, he doesn't like what he sees. He understands his weaknesses and imperfections. He wants to get better – as a political leader, a husband, a father, a human being, and as a child of God.
Marco Rubio as -- improbably -- he moved ahead in the polls for the FL US Senate seat Eventually, Crist, recognizing the handwriting on the wall, dropped out as a Republican. Polls had shown that his only chance was to run as an Independent. So much for Florida’s “Mr. Republican.”
When Crist made personal attacks – and he did so regularly – Marco hit back hard. For instance, when Crist went after him on Social Security, Marco calls the attack “shameful.” He adds, “You know my mom is a beneficiary of Social Security—you’ve met her. And you know why I know it’s shameful, Governor? You can’t even look at me as I tell you these things.”
The debate with Crist on Oct. 15, where Crist tried to label Marco an extremist as opposed to his own supposedly “centrism” Marco’s response: “The notion, Governor, that you switched to become an independent because you’re some kind of centrist who’s looking out for the betterment of the country, quite frankly, is a fairy tale that only you believe. You’re running as an independent not because you took a principled stand on the issues; you’re running as an independent because you took a poll.”
When Crist kept constantly interrupting him during the debate, Marco turned to his opponent and said: “I’ve never had a heckler at the debate. I’ve always had them in the audience.”
“Upon hearing the heckler line, the panel, the audience, and even Kendrick [Meek, the Democrat running for Senate]] broke out into laughter. Crist appeared as if the frustrations of the entire campaign had finally gotten the best of him and erupted in one singular moment.”
One of the keys to Marco winning the Senate race was to keep his Democrat opponent, Cong. Kendrick Meek, from dropping out – and endorsing Crist. Marco explains, “The better he [Meek] did, the happier we were. I attacked him for being a left-wing, consistently liberal Democrat. To some observers that seemed like a boilerplate partisan attack. But its purpose was to rally Democrats to Kendrick’s defense. The more I went after him, the more Democratic voters would see him as their guy.”
message would be in a presidential race: “This election is about the people watching whose country is going in the wrong direction, who understand that, if we keep doing what we are doing now, we are going to be the first Americans in history to leave our children worse off than ourselves. That’s what this election is about.”
Marco won the Florida Senate election by a huge margin – 1.038 million over Crist and substantially more over Kendrick Meek.
Marco is optimistic about the future, both for America and his Party. Speaking on immigration, he notes that many Hispanics regularly vote for Democrats, but he sees growing numbers that may be open to voting Republican – largely because they’re concerned about “the influence of our hyper-sexualized secular pop culture” on children. They’re attracted by Republicans’ “support for traditional cultural values.”
Marco says it’s important to understand why people lawfully immigrated to America: “for the economic opportunities available here . . . and to escape the hardships caused by . . . government-dominated economies.” In short, they recognize the value of the free-enterprise system.
On the day before he was sworn in as Senator, Marco, family, and friends visited – all for the first time – George Washington’s home at Mt. Vernon. His first thought was how different his family was from the one that lived at Mt. Vernon. But then he began to recognize the similarities with the Founders.
He says, “They had made a nation where you could be whatever your talents and industry allowed you to be. No matter the circumstances of your birth or your parents were financially and socially established. I looked at the little assembly of my family and friends, and observed there was not a millionaire among them. There were no Ivy Leaguers present, no one who could trace their lineage to the Mayflower . . . . We looked and sounded different from the descendants of George Washington’s generation. But we embodied everything America’s founding generation had hoped America would become.”
At the age of 41, Marco Rubio already has a great past in American politics. But with Marco, most believe the best is yet to come.