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Marco Rubio

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For the boxer, see Marco Antonio Rubio.
Marco Rubio
Marco Rubio, Official Portrait, 112th Congress.jpg
United States Senator
from Florida
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Serving with Bill Nelson
Preceded by George LeMieux
Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives
In office
January 2, 2007 – January 3, 2009
Preceded by Allan Bense
Succeeded by Ray Sansom
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 111th district
In office
January 25, 2000 – January 2, 2009
Preceded by Carlos Valdes
Succeeded by Erik Fresen
Personal details
Born Marco Antonio Rubio
(1971-05-28) May 28, 1971 (age 43)
Miami, Florida, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Jeanette Dousdebes
Children 4
Education Tarkio College
Santa Fe College
University of Florida (B.A.)
University of Miami (J.D.)
Religion Roman Catholicism

Marco Antonio Rubio (born May 28, 1971) is the junior United States Senator from Florida, serving since January 2011. A member of the Republican Party, he previously served as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives (2007–2009).

A Cuban American native of Miami, Florida, Rubio is a graduate of the University of Florida and the University of Miami Law School. In the late 1990s, he served as a City Commissioner for West Miami and was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2000, representing the 111th House district. He was elected Speaker in November 2006.

Rubio announced a run for U.S. Senate in May 2009 after incumbent Republican Mel Martinez resigned. Initially trailing by double-digits against the incumbent Republican Governor Charlie Crist, Rubio eventually surpassed him in polling for the Republican nomination. Rubio won the Republican nomination after Crist opted instead to run with no party affiliation. In a three-way split against Crist and Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek, Rubio won the general election in November 2010 with 48.9 percent of the vote. He is one of three Latinos in the Senate.[1]

Early life, education, and political career[edit]

Rubio was born in Miami, Florida,[2] the second son and third child of Mario Rubio and Oria Garcia. His parents were Cubans who had immigrated to the United States in 1956 and were naturalized as U.S. citizens in 1975.[3] Rubio's maternal grandfather, Pedro Victor Garcia, also immigrated legally to the U.S. in 1956, but returned to Cuba to find work in 1959.[4] When he returned to the U.S. in 1962 without a visa, U.S. embassies in Cuba being closed, an immigration judge ordered him deported.[4][5] U.S. immigration authorities ultimately used their discretion to allow him to remain in the U.S. without a visa.[4] In 2012, The Associated Press concluded that Garcia might have been undocumented for four years, from 1962 to 1966.[6]

In October 2011, the St. Petersburg Times and The Washington Post reported that Rubio's previous statements that his parents were forced to leave Cuba in 1959, after Fidel Castro came to power, were incorrect. His parents left Cuba in 1956, during the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. According to The Washington Post, Rubio's "embellishments" resonated with many voters in Florida, who would not be as impressed by his family being economic migrants seeking a better life in the U.S. instead of political refugees from a communist regime.[3] Rubio responded: "The real essence of my family's story is not about the date my parents first entered the United States. Or whether they traveled back and forth between the two nations. 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."[7]

Rubio's family was Roman Catholic, though from age 8 to age 11, he and his family attended The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while they lived in Las Vegas,[8] where his father worked as a bartender at Sams Town Hotel and his mother a housekeeper at the Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino.[9] He received his first communion as a Catholic in 1984, before moving back to Miami with his family a year later. He was confirmed and married in the Catholic Church.[10][11]

Rubio attended South Miami Senior High School and graduated in 1989. He then attended Tarkio College for one year on a football scholarship from 1989 to 1990, before enrolling at Santa Fe Community College (now Santa Fe College). He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in political science from the University of Florida in 1993, and his J.D. degree cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law in 1996.[12][13] Rubio said that his education resulted in $100,000 of student loans, which he paid off in 2012.[14]

While studying law, Rubio interned for U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.[15] He served as a City Commissioner for West Miami before being elected to the Florida House of Representatives in early 2000.[13]

Florida House of Representatives[edit]


With Speaker Rubio (right), at his side, Speaker pro tempore Dennis K. Baxley, compliments House staff for their years of service April 4, 2007, in Tallahassee, Florida.

In late 1999, a special election was called to fill the seat for the 111th House District in the Florida House of Representatives, representing Miami. The seat had been held by Representative Carlos Valdes, who had run for and won an open Florida State Senate seat.[16]

Rubio placed second in the Republican primary on December 14, 1999,[17] but won the run-off election for the Republican nomination, by 64 votes.[18] He then defeated Democrat Anastasia Garcia with 72% of the vote in a January 25, 2000 special election.[19]

In November 2000, Rubio won re-election unopposed.[20] In 2002, he won re-election to a second full term unopposed.[21] In 2004, he won re-election to a third full term with 66% of the vote.[22] In 2006, he won re-election to a fourth full term unopposed.[23]


In December 2002, Rubio was appointed House Majority Leader by Speaker Johnnie Byrd.[24][25] In November 2003, Rubio clinched the Speakership after State Representatives Dennis Baxley, Jeff Kottkamp, and Dennis A. Ross dropped out. He became the first Cuban American to become Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.[26]

Rubio is the author of the book 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future, which includes information that he compiled while traveling around the state and talking with citizens. This was done through what Rubio calls "Idearaisers". Many of the issues that he pushed for in his first year as speaker came from ideas in this book.[27] In 2007, he championed a major overhaul of the Florida tax system, arguing it would reduce property taxes and decrease the size of government.[28]

During his time as Speaker of the Florida House, Rubio shared a residence with another Florida State Representative, David Rivera; the two men co-owned the property in Tallahassee. The home later fell into foreclosure after deferring months of mortgage payments. This issue surfaced in June 2010, during Rubio's run for the US Senate but was considered resolved according to Rubio's spokesman.[29]

In 2010 Rubio was questioned about charges of nearly $110,000 made to his Republican Party American Express card during his two years as House speaker.[30][31] The records listed some personal items, including grocery bills, wine, and plane tickets for his wife. Rubio said the charges were legitimate Republican Party expenses and that he personally paid American Express more than $16,000 for expenses unrelated to the party.[32]

U.S. Senate[edit]

2010 election[edit]

On May 5, 2009, Rubio announced on his website that he planned to run for the United States Senate seat being vacated by Mel Martinez, who had resigned and been replaced by George LeMieux. Prior to the announcement, he had been meeting with fundraisers and supporters throughout the state.[33] Initially trailing by double-digits against the incumbent Governor of his own party, Charlie Crist, Rubio eventually surpassed Crist in polling for the Republican nomination.[34][35]

On April 28, 2010, Crist announced he would be running without a party affiliation, effectively ceding the Republican nomination to Rubio.[36][37] Several of Crist's top fundraisers, as well as Republican leadership, refused to support Crist after Rubio won the Republican nomination for the Senate.[38][39][40]

On November 2, 2010, Marco Rubio won the general election with 49 percent of the vote to Crist's 30% and Democrat Kendrick Meek's 20%.[41] Following his victory in the elections, Rubio soon became the subject of speculation as a potential Republican candidate for the 2012 presidential election.[42][43] Rubio stated shortly after taking office that he had no interest in running for president or vice president in 2012.[44]

Upon taking office, Rubio hired Cesar Conda, former lobbyist and domestic policy chief adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, as his chief of staff.[45][46][47]


Rubio voted against the Budget Control Act of 2011, which included mandatory budget cuts from "sequestration", and said later that defense spending should never have been linked to taxes and the deficit. "You're constantly being given false choices," Rubio said in August 2012. "'If you want to save national security, you have to agree to raise taxes that will hurt our economy.' Well, that's a false choice and quite frankly it's a destructive one."[48]

In October 2011, Rubio co-sponsored the Reducing the Size of Federal Government Through Attrition Act. The bill, which has not been voted on in the Senate, would reduce federal employment by 10% by 2015.[49]

In November 2011, Rubio and Senator Chris Coons (D-Del) co-sponsored the American Growth, Recovery, Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Act (AGREE Act). The bill would extend many tax credits and exemptions for businesses investing in research and development, equipment, and other capital. It would also provide a tax credit for veterans who start a business franchise, allow an increase in immigration for certain types of work visas, and strengthen copyright protections.[50]

In 2012 Rubio introduced a bill, co-sponsored by Joe Manchin, to allow employers to be exempted from newly mandated coverage for contraception based on religious or moral grounds, but it was not adopted in the Senate.[51]

Rubio voted against the 2012 Fiscal Cliff Resolutions. Although he received some criticism for this position, he responded: “Thousands of small businesses, not just the wealthy, will now be forced to decide how they'll pay this new tax, and, chances are, they'll do it by firing employees, cutting back their hours and benefits, or postponing the new hire they were looking to make. And to make matters worse, it does nothing to bring our dangerous debt under control.”[52]

In 2013, Rubio served on the bipartisan group of Senators that crafted comprehensive immigration reform legislation.[53]

In January 2013, Senator Rubio proposed a plan providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. Rubio’s multistep plan includes fines, back taxes, background checks, and a lengthy probationary period. His proposal contrasted with the Republican party’s long-held view that offering citizenship to undocumented immigrants is virtually the same as amnesty.[54] At the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in 2015, Rubio stated that his biggest lesson from the experience was that Americans would not support comprehensive immigration reform until the border is secure.[55]

Rubio was chosen to deliver the Republican response to President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address. It would mark the first time the response was delivered in English and Spanish.[56] Rubio's attempt to draw a strong line against the looming defense sequestration was undercut by fellow Republican senator Rand Paul's additional response to Obama's speech that called for the sequester to be carried out.[57]

On April 17, 2013, Rubio voted against an expansion of background checks for gun purchases.[58]

In July 2013, Rubio and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2013. The bill would require federal agencies to monitor and regularly report on the performance of foreign assistance programs based on specified goals and metrics. The reports would be published publicly. According to Rubio: "America’s foreign assistance programs need greater transparency to ensure that they are advancing our values and interests overseas."[59]

In 2014 Rubio asked Pope Francis "to take up the cause of freedom and democracy" in Cuba after helping negotiate the release of Alan Gross.[60]

Rubio has also taught a political science course at Florida International University during his U.S. Senate career.[61]

Committee assignments[edit]

Political positions[edit]

Senator Rubio speaking at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.

Rubio holds conservative views on fiscal and social issues, and has been called the "crown prince" of the Tea Party movement.[64][65] His Senate votes in 2011[66] and 2012 earned him 100.00 ratings from the American Conservative Union.[67]


He supports an initiative to limit federal spending growth to the per capita inflation rate. He opposed Obama's stimulus package of 2009. He supports initiatives to balance the federal budget, including a balanced budget amendment.[68] Rubio supports Social Security changes to prevent projected future deficits in the program. He believes the program should have a higher age for the start of benefits for workers who are more than 10 years away from retirement to account for Americans living longer.[68] He has stated his support of federal R&D funding and space exploration funding to promote technological innovation, which he sees as critical to the development to the economy.[68] He supports extending the Bush tax cuts and believes no taxes should be increased during a recession. He also opposes the capital gains tax, stating that it is double taxation, as well as the estate tax. Rubio supports a flat rate federal tax.[68] In 2014, Rubio proposed legislation to replace the earned income tax credit with a federal wage enhancement for qualifying low-wage jobs. The proposal would apply to singles as well as married couples and families with children. It would also arrive in sync with a monthly paycheck rather than a year-end lump-sum credit. Rubio asserted that this was a "better way to support low-income workers than simply raising the minimum wage."[69]


Rubio joined 22 other GOP senators in voting against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, stating that he largely supported it but objected to certain new provisions in the bill.[70] Rubio identifies as pro-life.[68] He strongly opposes Roe v. Wade,[68][71] and has stated that the "right to life is a fundamental one that trumps virtually any other right I can imagine".[71] On March 14, 2013, Rubio reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage at the Conservative Political Action Conference, stating that he is in favor of states having the right to define marriage in the "traditional way".[72][73] Rubio opposed the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court based on "her case history and testimony regarding the Second Amendment at the state level, eminent domain takings and the so-called constitutional right to privacy that resulted in the Roe v. Wade decision".[68][74] As of 2010, he was rated B+ by the National Rifle Association (NRA) for his stance on gun control.[68] In 2012 he urged his party to compromise on the DREAM Act to keep from alienating Hispanic voters from the Republican party.[75] Rubio has said that there is no "responsible way to recreationally use marijuana", and has not responded to questions regarding whether he has personally used marijuana.[76]

National Security[edit]

He has stated that radical Islamist terrorists pose the greatest threat to the United States and that these radicals intend to impose their beliefs on the world. He voted "yes" on extending the roving wiretaps provision of the Patriot Act, which governs surveillance of suspected terrorists.[68] Rubio has supported Obama's initial response to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's invasion of Iraq. He has also called for arms to support moderate elements in the Syrian opposition and a bombing campaign to stop ISIL's advance,[77] but voted against an authorization to use force in Syria.[78]

Climate change[edit]

Rubio has stated that he does not believe that human activity is causing climate change, and argues that proposals to address climate change would not work but would instead "destroy" the economy.[79][80] The independent fact-checking website PolitiFact found that Rubio had consistently questioned the scientific understanding of climate change: "Rubio consistently either avoids the link between human activity and climate change, or outright denies it."[81]

Rubio has been labelled a climate change denier by Democrats[82][83][84] which he rejects, claiming the "hypocrisy" of liberal critics when they decline to accept the "settled science" that "human life begins at conception."[83]

Potential 2016 presidential campaign[edit]

Marco Rubio speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland on February 27, 2015.

In April 2014, the departure of Cesar Conda, Rubio’s chief of staff since 2011, was seen as a sign of Rubio’s plans to run for President in 2016. Conda will lead Rubio's Reclaim America PAC as a senior adviser, and will remain as a part-time advisor to Rubio.[85][86]

Groups supporting Rubio raised over $530,000 in the first three months of 2014, most of which was spent on consultants and data analytics, in what was seen as preparations for a presidential campaign.[87]

A poll from the WMUR/University, tracking New Hampshire Republican primary voters' sentiment, showed Rubio at the top alongside Kentucky senator Rand Paul later in 2013, but as of April 18, 2014 he had dropped to 10th place behind other Republican contenders. The poll, however, also suggests that Rubio is not disliked by the primary voters, which could be positive for him if other candidates choose not to run.[88] Rubio placed second among potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates in an online poll of likely voters conducted by Zogby Analytics in January 2015.[89][90]

In January of 2015, it was reported that Rubio had begun contacting top donors and appointing advisors for a potential 2016 run, including George Seay, who previously worked on such campaigns as Rick Perry's in 2012 and Mitt Romney's in 2008, and Jim Rubright, who had previously worked for Jeb Bush, Romney, and John McCain.[91][92] Rubio also instructed his aides to "prepare for a presidential campaign" prior to a Team Marco 2016 fundraising meeting in South Beach.[93]

Rubio is expected to formally announce the launch of his presidential bid on April 13.[94][95][96]

Personal life[edit]

Rubio married Jeanette Dousdebes, a former bank teller and Miami Dolphins cheerleader, in 1998.[97] She is of Colombian descent; together they have four children.[97][98] Rubio and his family live in West Miami, Florida.[11] Rubio attends Christ Fellowship, a Southern Baptist Church[99] in West Kendall, Florida,[100] as well as Catholic services.[101] After leaving the Florida House of Representatives due to term limits in January 2009, Rubio started his own law firm. In February, he declared himself a candidate for U.S. Senate in the 2010 election cycle.[102] In an interview in 2012, Rubio said: "I'm a Roman Catholic. I'm theologically in line with the Roman Catholic Church. I believe in the authority of the church, but I also have tremendous respect for my brothers and sisters in other Christian faiths. I recognize, as the Catholic Church does, that there are excellent teachings of the Word throughout other denominations. The elements of salvation are found in these churches as well."[103]

Electoral history[edit]

Florida U.S. Senate Election 2010
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Marco Rubio 2,645,743 48.9%
Independent Charlie Crist 1,607,549 29.7%
Democratic Kendrick Meek 1,092,936 20.2%
Libertarian Alexander Snitker 24,850 0.5%


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  94. ^
  95. ^
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  99. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
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Published works[edit]

  • Rubio, Marco (2006). 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future. Regnery Publishing. ISBN 978-1596985117. 
  • Rubio, Marco (2012). An American Son: A Memoir. Sentinel HC. ISBN 978-1595230942. 
  • Rubio, Marco (2015). American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone. Sentinel HC. ISBN 978-1595231130. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Florida House of Representatives
Preceded by
Carlos Valdes
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 111th district

Succeeded by
Erik Fresen
Political offices
Preceded by
Allan Bense
Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Ray Sansom
Party political offices
Preceded by
Mel Martinez
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Florida
(Class 3)

Most recent
United States Senate
Preceded by
George LeMieux
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Florida
Served alongside: Bill Nelson
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
John Hoeven
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Ron Johnson