Marco Rubio

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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
November 21, 2006 – November 18, 2008
Preceded by Allan Bense
Succeeded by Ray Sansom
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 111th district
In office
January 25, 2000 – November 18, 2008
Preceded by Carlos Valdes
Succeeded by Erik Fresen
Personal details
Born Marco Antonio Rubio
(1971-05-28) May 28, 1971 (age 50)
Miami, Florida, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Jeanette Dousdebes
Children 4
Education Tarkio College
Santa Fe College
University of Florida (BA)
University of Miami (JD)
Religion Roman Catholicism
Website Senate website
Campaign website

Marco Antonio Rubio (born May 28, 1971) is an American politician and attorney, and the junior United States Senator from Florida. Rubio previously served as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

Rubio is a Cuban American from Miami, with degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Miami School of Law. 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.

Later in 2000, Rubio was promoted to be one of two majority whips, and in 2002, he was appointed House Majority Leader by Speaker Johnnie Byrd. Subsequently, he was elected Speaker of the Florida House, serving as Speaker for two years beginning in November 2006. Upon leaving the Florida legislature in 2008 due to term limits, Rubio started a new law firm, and also began teaching at Florida International University, where he continues as an adjunct professor.

Rubio successfully ran for United States Senate in 2010. In the U.S. Senate, he chairs the Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, as well as the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women's Issues. He is one of four Latino Americans serving in the Senate.

In April 2015, Rubio announced that he would forgo seeking reelection to the Senate to run for President. He suspended his campaign for President on March 15, 2016, after losing the Republican primary in his home state of Florida to Donald Trump.[1] On June 22, 2016, he reversed his decision not to seek reelection to the Senate and announced a campaign for reelection citing the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting.[2] Rubio was reelected after defeating Democrat Patrick Murphy in the 2016 general election.

Right-wing opponents have derided Rubio as a so-called cuckservative for his progressive views on immigration and racial and identity politics, but mainstream commentators described him as a moderate conservative, and a populist.[3]

Early life, education, and entry into politics

Marco Antonio Rubio was born in Miami, Florida,[4] the second son and third child of Mario Rubio Reina[5] and Oriales (née Garcia) Rubio. His parents were Cubans who immigrated to the United States in 1956, prior to the rise of Fidel Castro in January 1959.[6] His mother made at least four trips back after Castro’s victory, including for a month in 1961.[6] Neither of his parents was a U.S. citizen at the time of Rubio's birth,[7] but his parents applied for U.S. citizenship and were naturalized in 1975.[6]

Rubio's maternal grandfather, Pedro Victor Garcia, initially immigrated legally to the U.S. in 1956, but returned to Cuba to find work in 1959.[8] When he returned to the U.S. in 1962 without a visa, he was detained as an undocumented immigrant, and an immigration judge ordered him to be deported.[8][9] The immigration officials had a "change of heart" later the same day, the deportation order was not enforced, and Garcia was given a legal status ("parolee") that allowed him to stay in the U.S.[10] Rubio's grandfather remained in the US and re-applied for permanent resident status in 1966, following passage of the Cuban Adjustment Act, at which point his residency was approved. In March 2016, the New York Times reported that Garcia was put in a "gray area" of the law that meant he could remain in the U.S. from 1962 to 1966.[10][11][12]

Marco has three siblings: older brother Mario, older sister Barbara (married to Orlando Cicilia), and younger sister Veronica (formerly married to entertainer Carlos Ponce).[13] Growing up, his 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 living in Las Vegas.[14] During those years in Nevada, his father worked as a bartender at Sam's Town Hotel and his mother a housekeeper at the Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino.[15] 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 later married in the Catholic Church.[16][17]

Rubio attended South Miami Senior High School, graduating in 1989. He then attended Tarkio College in Missouri for one year on a football scholarship from 1989 to 1990, before enrolling at Santa Fe Community College (now Santa Fe College) in Gainesville, Florida. He earned his Bachelor of Arts 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.[18][19] Rubio has said that his education resulted in $100,000 of student loans, which he paid off in 2012.[20]

While studying law, Rubio interned for U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.[21] He also worked on Republican Senator Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign.[22][23] In April 1998, two years out of law school and 26 years old, Rubio was elected to a seat as City Commissioner for West Miami before moving on to the Florida House of Representatives in early 2000.[24][25]

In October 2011, newspapers reported that Rubio's previous statements that his parents were forced to leave Cuba in 1959, after Fidel Castro came to power, were embellishments. His parents actually left Cuba in 1956, during the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. According to The Washington Post, many voters in Florida would be less impressed by his family being economic migrants instead of political refugees from a communist regime.[6] Rubio responded, saying: "The essence of my family story is why they came to America in the first place, and why they had to stay."[26] Aside from Rubio's maternal grandfather who fled communist Cuba in 1962, several other relatives were also admitted to the U.S. as refugees.[27]

Florida House of Representatives

Elections and concurrent employment

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.[28] It was considered a safe Republican seat, so Rubio's main challenge was to win the GOP nomination. He campaigned as a moderate, advocating tax cuts and early childhood education.[25]

Rubio placed second in the Republican primary on December 14, 1999,[29] but won the run-off election for the Republican nomination, defeating Angel Zayon (a television and radio reporter who was popular with Cuban exiles) by just 64 votes.[25][30] He then defeated Democrat Anastasia Garcia with 72% of the vote in a January 25, 2000 special election.[31]

In November 2000, Rubio won re-election unopposed.[32] In 2002, he won re-election to a second full term unopposed.[33] In 2004, he won re-election to a third full term with 66% of the vote.[34] In 2006, he won re-election to a fourth full term unopposed.[35]

Rubio served almost nine years in the Florida House of Representatives. Since the Florida legislative session officially lasted only 60 days, he was able to spend about half of each year in Miami, where he worked first at a law firm that specialized in land use and zoning, and later starting in 2004, took a position with Broad and Cassel, a Miami law and lobbying firm, though state law precluded him from engaging in lobbying or introducing legislation on behalf of the firm's clients.[25][36]

Tenure in legislature

Rubio's official portrait as a State Representative

At the time Rubio took his seat in the legislature in Tallahassee in January 2000, voters in Florida had recently approved a constitutional amendment on term limits. This created openings for new legislative leaders due to many senior incumbents having to retire. According to an article in National Journal, Rubio also gained an extra advantage in that regard, because he was sworn in early due to the special election, and he would take advantage of these opportunities to join the GOP leadership.[25]

Majority whip and majority leader

Later in 2000, the majority leader of the House, Mike Fasano, promoted Rubio to be one of two majority whips.[25] National Journal described that position as typically requiring a lot of arm-twisting, but said Rubio took a different approach that relied more on persuading legislators and less on coercing them.[25]

Fasano resigned in September 2001 as majority leader of the House due to disagreements with the House speaker, and the speaker passed over Rubio to appoint a more experienced replacement for Fasano. Rubio volunteered to work on redistricting, which he accomplished by dividing the state into five regions, then working individually with the lawmakers involved, and this work helped to cement his relationships with GOP leaders.[25]

In December 2002, Rubio was appointed House Majority Leader by Speaker Johnnie Byrd.[37][38] He persuaded Speaker Byrd to restructure the job of Majority Leader, so that legislative wrangling would be left to the whip’s office, and Rubio would become the main spokesperson for the House GOP.[25]

According to National Journal, during this period Rubio did not entirely adhere to doctrinaire conservative principles, and some colleagues described him as a centrist "who sought out Democrats and groups that don’t typically align with the GOP".[25] He co-sponsored legislation that would have let farm workers sue growers in state court if they were shortchanged on pay, and co-sponsored a bill for giving in-state tuition rates to the children of undocumented immigrants.[25] In the wake of the September 11 attacks, he voiced suspicion about expanding police detention powers, and helped defeat a GOP bill that would have required colleges to increase reporting to the state about foreign students.[25]

As a state representative, Rubio requested legislative earmarks (called "Community Budget Issue Requests" in Florida), totaling about $145 million for 2001 and 2002, but none thereafter.[39][40] Additionally, an office in the executive branch compiled a longer list of spending requests by legislators, including Rubio,[41] as did the non-profit group Florida TaxWatch.[42] Many of those listed items were for health and social programs that Rubio has described as "the kind of thing that legislators would get attacked on if we didn't fund them."[42] A 2010 report by the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald said that some of Rubio’s spending requests dovetailed with his personal interests.[41] For example, Rubio requested a $20 million appropriation for Jackson Memorial Hospital to subsidize care for the poor and uninsured,[42] and Rubio later did work for that hospital as a consultant.[41] A spokesman for Rubio has said that the items in question helped the whole county, that Rubio did not lobby to get them approved, that the hospital money was necessary and non-controversial, and that Rubio is "a limited-government conservative ... not a no-government conservative".[41]

House speaker

On September 13, 2005, at the age of 34,[43] Rubio clinched the speakership after State Representatives Dennis Baxley, Jeff Kottkamp, and Dennis A. Ross dropped out. He was actually sworn in over a year later, in November 2006. He became the first Cuban American to be speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, and would remain speaker until November 2008.[44]

Then Speaker-Designate Rubio, challenging House colleagues to help write "100 Innovative Ideas For Florida's Future", September 2005

When he was chosen as future speaker in 2005, Rubio delivered a speech to the House in which he asked members to look in their desks, where they each found a hardcover book titled 100 Innovative Ideas For Florida’s Future; but the book was intentionally blank, because it had not yet been written, and Rubio told his colleagues that they would fill in the pages together with the help of ordinary Floridians.[25] In 2006, after traveling around the state and talking with citizens, and compiling their ideas, Rubio published the book.[45][46] The National Journal called this book "the centerpiece of Rubio’s early speakership".[25] About 24 of the "ideas" became law, while another 10 were partially enacted.[46] Among the items from his 2006 book that became law were multiple-year car registrations, a requirement that high schools provide more vocational courses, and an expanded voucher-like school-choice program. Rubio's defenders, and even some critics, point out that nationwide economic difficulties overlapped with much of Rubio's speakership, and so funding new legislative proposals became difficult.[25]

At the time Rubio took office as speaker, Jeb Bush was completing his term as governor, and Bush left office in January 2007. Rubio hired 18 Bush aides, leading capitol insiders to say the speaker's suite was "the governor’s office in exile." An article in National Journal described Rubio's style as being very different from Bush's; where Bush was a very assertive manager of affairs in Tallahassee, the article says, Rubio's style was to delegate certain powers, relinquish others, and invite former political rivals into his inner circle.[25] As incoming speaker, he decided to open a private dining room for legislators, which he said would give members more privacy, free from being pursued by lobbyists, though the expense of doing so led to a public relations problem.[25]

Rubio as Chairman of the House Select Committee on Private Property Rights, October 2005

In 2006, Florida enacted into law limitations upon the authority of the state government to take private property, in response to the 2005 Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London which took a broad view of governmental power to take private property under eminent domain. This state legislation had been proposed by a special committee chaired by Rubio prior to his speakership.[47]

Jeb Bush's successor as governor was Charlie Crist, a moderate Republican who took office in January 2007. Rubio and Crist clashed frequently. Their sharpest clash involved the governor's initiative to expand casino gambling in Florida. Rubio sued Crist for bypassing the Florida Legislature in order to make a deal with the Seminole Tribe. The Florida Supreme Court sided with Rubio and blocked the deal.[48][49]

Rubio also was a critic of Crist's strategy to fight climate change through an executive order creating new automobile and utility emissions standards. Rubio accused Crist of imposing "European-style big government mandates," and the legislature under Rubio's leadership weakened the impact of Crist's climate change initiative.[25][49] Rubio said that Crist’s approach would harm consumers by driving up utility bills without having much effect upon the environment, and that a better approach would be to promote biofuel (e.g. ethanol), solar panels, and energy efficiency.[50][51][52]

Rubio introduced a plan to reduce state property taxes to 2001 levels (and potentially eliminate them altogether), while increasing sales taxes by 1% to 2.5% to fund schools. The proposal would have reduced property taxes in the state by $40–50 billion. His proposal passed the House, but was opposed by Governor Crist and Florida Senate Republicans, who said that the increase in sales tax would disproportionately affect the poor. So, Rubio agreed to smaller changes, and Crist's proposal to double the state's property tax exemption from $25,000 to $50,000 (for a tax reduction estimated by Crist to be $33 billion) ultimately passed.[25][47][53] Legislators called it the largest tax cut in Florida's history up until then.[47][54] At the time, Republican anti-tax activist Grover Norquist described Rubio as "the most pro-taxpayer legislative leader in the country."[53]

Rubio conferring with Democratic leader Dan Gelber in 2007

As speaker, Rubio "aggressively tried to push Florida to the political right," according to NBC News, and frequently clashed with the Florida Senate, which was run by more moderate Republicans, and with then-Governor Charlie Crist, a centrist Republican at the time.[49] Although a conservative, "behind the scenes many Democrats considered Rubio someone with whom they could work," according to biographer Manuel Roig-Franzia.[55] Dan Gelber of Miami, the House Democratic leader at the time of Rubio's speakership, considered him "a true conservative" but not "a reflexive partisan," saying: "He didn't have an objection to working with the other side simply because they were the other side. To put it bluntly, he wasn't a jerk."[56] Gelber considered Rubio "a severe conservative, really far to the right, but probably the most talented spokesman the severe right could ever hope for."[49]

While Speaker of the Florida House, Rubio shared a residence in Tallahassee with another Florida State Representative, David Rivera, which the two co-owned. The house later went into foreclosure in 2010 after several missed mortgage payments.[57] At that point, Rubio assumed responsibility for the payments, and the house was eventually sold.[58][59]

House Speaker Rubio and Senate President Ken Pruitt embrace after the House's unanimous approval of the Senate's resolution to formally express deep regret for slavery. March 2008

In 2007, Florida State Senator Tony Hill (D-Jacksonville), chairman of the state legislature's Black Caucus, requested that the legislature apologize for slavery, and Rubio said the idea merited discussion.[60] The following year, a supportive Rubio said such apologies can be important albeit symbolic; he pointed out that even in 2008 young African-American males "believe that the American dream is not available to them".[61][62] He helped set up a council on issues facing black men and boys, persuaded colleagues to replicate the Harlem Children's Zone in the Miami neighborhood of Liberty City, and supported efforts to promote literacy and mentoring for black children and others.[63][64][65][66]

In 2010 during Rubio's senate campaign, and again in 2015 during his presidential campaign, issues were raised by the media and his political opponents about some items charged by Rubio to his Republican Party of Florida American Express card during his time as House speaker.[67][68][69] Rubio charged about $110,000 during those two years, of which $16,000 was personal expenses unrelated to party business, such as groceries and plane tickets.[70] Rubio said that he personally paid American Express more than $16,000 for these personal expenses.[71][72] In 2012, the Florida Commission on Ethics cleared Rubio of wrongdoing in his use of the party-issued credit card, although the commission inspector said that Rubio exhibited a "level of negligence" in not using his personal MasterCard.[73][74] In November 2015, Rubio released his party credit card statements for January 2005 through October 2006, which showed eight personal charges totaling $7,243.74, all of which he had personally reimbursed, in most instances by the next billing period.[69][70][75] When releasing the charge records, Rubio spokesman Todd Harris said, "These statements are more than 10 years old. And the only people who ask about them today are the liberal media and our political opponents. We are releasing them now because Marco has nothing to hide."[69]

Adjunct professor at Florida International University

After leaving the Florida Legislature in 2008, Rubio started his own law firm,[76] and also began teaching under a fellowship appointment at Florida International University (FIU) as an adjunct professor.[77] In 2011, he rejoined the FIU faculty after entering the U.S. Senate, and he has taught on most Mondays and Fridays, when the Senate is usually not in session.[77][78] Rubio teaches in the Department of Politics and International Relations, which is part of FIU's Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs.[79] He has taught up to four undergraduate courses per year, on Florida politics, political parties, and legislative politics.[80][81]

Rubio's reviews from students have been positive, even from students who disagree with him politically.[77] He generally gives the impression of being unbiased and nonpartisan, and when offering his own opinion identifies it as such.[78][82] Rubio says that he wants students, when they watch the news, to have an appreciation for what is really going on behind the scenes, and says that teaching "forces me to stop sometimes and analyze things".[77]

As of 2015, Rubio's appointment as an FIU professor is no longer a matter of partisan criticism, though it was initially.[82] The university obtained considerable state funding when Rubio was speaker of the Florida House, but many other university jobs were being eliminated due to funding issues at the time FIU appointed him to the faculty.[77][80][83] According to news reporting about Rubio's speakership, he "might have helped FIU get money early, but all the projects already had been scheduled for funding by the state's Board of Governors."[80] The president of the faculty senate at the time criticized the appointment, and Charlie Crist raised the issue against Rubio during the 2010 U.S. Senate election.[77][83] Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos said that the position was approved in advance by the Senate Ethics Committee, which was then led by Barbara Boxer.[80] The director of FIU's School of International and Public Affairs says that Rubio "brings a great deal of insight and hands-on knowledge of the political process to the classroom...our students will learn from a sitting U.S. senator, which is an incredible opportunity."[80] When Rubio accepted the fellowship appointment as an adjunct professor at FIU, he agreed to raise most of the funding for his position from private sources. Billionaire Norman Braman, also a major campaign donor to Rubio, donated $100,000 to finance the teaching position.[83][84] Rubio's office says that other senators, such as then-Senator Joe Biden, have held teaching positions during their terms of office.[80]

U.S. Senate

The start of Rubio's official welcome message at his U.S. Senate website.



On May 5, 2009, Rubio announced on his website that he planned to run for the United States Senate seat being vacated by Mel Martínez, who had announced that he would not seek reelection. Martinez subsequently announced (in August 2009) that he would resign before completing his term, and upon his resignation was replaced by George LeMieux. Prior to making his May 5, 2009 announcement, Rubio had been meeting with fundraisers and supporters throughout the state.[85] Initially trailing by double-digits in the primary against the incumbent Governor of his own party, Charlie Crist, Rubio eventually surpassed Crist in polling for the Republican nomination.[86][87] In his campaign, Rubio received the support of members of the Tea Party, many of whom were dissatisfied with Crist's policies as governor.[88]

On April 28, 2010, Crist announced he would be running without a party affiliation, effectively ceding the Republican nomination to Rubio.[89][90][91]

Several of Crist's top fundraisers, as well as Republican leadership, refused to support Crist after Rubio won the Republican nomination for the Senate.[92][93][94]

On November 2, 2010, Rubio won the general election with 49 percent of the vote to Crist's 30% and Democrat Kendrick Meek's 20%.[95] Following his victory in the elections, Rubio soon became the subject of speculation as a potential Republican candidate for the 2012 presidential election.[96][97] At the time of his election, Rubio joined Bob Menendez of New Jersey as the only two Latino Americans in the Senate. (Ted Cruz would be elected Senator from Texas two years later.)[98]


On June 13, 2016, despite his previous statements that he would not run for reelection to his Senate seat, Rubio "seemed to open the door to running for re-election," citing the previous day's 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting and how "it really gives you pause, to think a little bit about your service to your country and where you can be most useful to your country,"[99] officially announcing his candidacy nine days later, on June 22.[2] Rubio won the Republican primary on August 30, 2016, defeating Carlos Beruff.[100] He faced Democratic nominee Patrick Murphy in the general election, defeating him with 52% of the vote.[101]

Tenure as Senator

During Rubio’s first four years in the U.S. Senate, Republicans were in the minority, but since January 2015 Republicans have been the Senate majority party.[102]

In the minority

At Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan with Floridians, January 2011
Visiting Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in May 2012

Shortly after taking office in 2011, Rubio said he had no interest in running for president or vice president in the 2012 presidential election.[103] In March 2012, when he endorsed Mitt Romney for president, Rubio said that he did not expect to be or want to be selected as a vice presidential running mate,[104] but was vetted for vice president by the Romney campaign.[104] Former Romney aide Beth Myers has said that the vetting process turned up nothing disqualifying about Rubio.[105]

Upon taking office, Rubio hired Cesar Conda as his chief of staff.[106][107][108] Conda, a former adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, and former top aide to Sens. Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.) and Robert Kasten (R-Wis.), was succeeded in 2014 as Rubio's chief of staff by his deputy, Alberto Martinez, but Conda remained as a part-time adviser.[109]

During his first year in office, Rubio became an influential defender of the United States embargo against Cuba, and induced the State Department to withdraw an ambassadorial nomination of Jonathan D. Farrar, who was the Chief of Mission of the United States Interests Section in Havana from 2008 to 2011. Rubio believed that Farrar was not assertive enough toward the Castro regime.[110] Also in 2011, he was invited to visit the Reagan Library, during which he gave a well-publicized speech praising its namesake, and also rescued Nancy Reagan from falling.[111][112]

Meeting in February 2013 with Israeli President Shimon Peres during trip to Jordan and Israel.

In March 2011, Rubio supported U.S. participation in the military campaign in Libya to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.[113] He urged that Senate leaders bring "a bi-partisan resolution to the Senate floor authorizing the President's decision to participate in allied military action in Libya".[114] The administration decided that no congressional authorization was needed under the War Powers Resolution; Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) joined Rubio in writing an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal in June 2011 again urging passage of such authorization.[115] In October 2011, Rubio joined several other Senators in pushing for continued engagement to "help Libya lay the foundation for sustainable security."[116] Soon after Gadhafi was ousted, Rubio warned there was a serious threat posed by the spread of militias and weapons, and called for more U.S. involvement to counter that threat.[113]

Rubio voted against the Budget Control Act of 2011, which included mandatory automatic budget cuts from sequestration.[117][118] He later said that defense spending should never have been linked to taxes and the deficit, calling the policy a "terrible idea" based on a "false choice."[117]

In October 2011, Rubio co-sponsored the Reducing the Size of Federal Government Through Attrition Act. The bill, which was not voted on in the Senate, would have reduced federal employment by 10% by 2015.[119]

The following month, Rubio and Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, co-sponsored the American Growth, Recovery, Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Act (AGREE Act), which would have extended many tax credits and exemptions for businesses investing in research and development, equipment, and other capital; provided a tax credit for veterans who start a business franchise; allowed an increase in immigration for certain types of work visas; and strengthened copyright protections.[120][121][122][123]

In 2012, Rubio introduced a bill, co-sponsored by Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, 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.[124]

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 hires they were looking to make. And to make matters worse, it does nothing to bring our dangerous debt under control."[125]

Touring the US-Mexican border in November 2011 with Border Patrol officials

In 2013, Rubio was part of the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" Senators that crafted comprehensive immigration reform legislation.[126] Rubio proposed a plan providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States involving payment of fines and back taxes, background checks, and a probationary period; that pathway was to be implemented only after strengthening border security.[127][128] The bill passed the Senate 68 to 32 with his support, but Rubio then signaled that the bill should not be taken up by the House because other priorities, like repealing Obamacare, were a higher priority for him; the House never did take up the bill. Rubio has since explained that he still supports reform, but a different approach instead of a single comprehensive bill.[129]

About to give response to the State of the Union address in February 2013

Rubio was chosen to deliver the Republican response to President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address.[130] It marked the first time the response was delivered in English and Spanish.[131] 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.[132]

In April 2013, Rubio voted against an expansion of background checks for gun purchases, contending that such increased regulatory measures would do little to help capture criminals.[133][134]

In May 2013, Rubio proposed the Regulation Costs to Small Businesses Act which would have required the Small Business Administration to conduct an annual study to estimate the total cost of regulations on small businesses.[135]

In July 2013, Rubio and Senator Ben Cardin, Democrat of Maryland, 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."[136]

In 2014, Rubio co-sponsored legislation with Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, to revise the process for calculating and collecting student loans. The legislation would base student loan payments on the student's subsequent income and automatically collect payments from paychecks in order to simplify the process and eliminate loan servicer fees.[135]

In the majority

Rubio in November 2015

Republicans took control of the U.S. Senate as a result of the elections in November 2014.[137] As this new period of Republican control began, Rubio pushed for elimination of the "risk corridors" used by the federal government to compensate insurers for their losses as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The risk corridors were intended to be funded by profitable insurers participating in the PPACA. However, since insurer losses have significantly exceeded their profits in the program, the risk corridors have been depleted. His efforts contributed to the inclusion of a provision in the 2014 federal budget which prevented other funding sources from being tapped to replenish the risk corridors.[138]

In February 2015, Rubio took the position that the United States Department of Veterans Affairs was "simply buckling under the weight of its own bureaucracy", and he endorsed their proposal to open veterans' care to private providers.[139]

In March 2015, Rubio and Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, proposed a tax plan which, according to The Wall Street Journal, combined thinking from "old-fashioned, Reagan-era supply siders" and a "breed of largely younger conservative reform thinkers" who are concerned with the tax burden on the middle-class. The plan would lower the top corporate income tax rate from 38% to 25%, eliminate taxes on capital gains, dividends and inherited estates, and create a new child tax credit worth up to $2,500 per child. The plan would set the top individual income tax rate at 35%. It also included a proposal to replace the means-tested welfare system, including food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit, with a new "consolidated system of benefits".[140]

According to analysis by Vocativ as reported by Fox News, Rubio has missed 8.3 percent of total votes since taking office, from January 2011 to February 2015.[141] From October 27, 2014, to October 26, 2015, Rubio voted in 74 percent of Senate votes, according to an analysis by, which tracks Congressional voting records.[142][143] In 2015, Rubio was absent for about 35 percent of Senate votes.[142][144] In historical context Rubio's attendance record for Senate votes is not exceptional among senators seeking a presidential nomination, such as Senator John McCain whose percentage of missed votes in 2007 was much higher. However it is the worst of the three senators who campaigned for the presidency in 2015.[145]

During his Senate tenure, Rubio has co-sponsored bills on issues ranging from humanitarian crises in Haiti to the Russian incursion into Ukraine,[146] and has been a frequent and prominent critic of President Obama's efforts in the field of national security.[146]

On May 17, 2016, Rubio broke from the Republican majority in his support of President Obama's request for a $2 billion funding for emergency spending toward the Zika virus at a time when Florida accounted for roughly 20% of the recorded cases of Zika in the U.S., acknowledging that it was the president's request but furthering that "it’s really the scientists’ requests, the doctors’ request, the public health sector’s request for how to address this issue."[147] On August 6, Rubio stated he does not believe in terminating Zika-infected pregnancies.[148]

On December 13, after President-elect Trump announced Rex Tillerson as his pick for Secretary of State in the incoming administration, Rubio expressed concerns with the selection.[149] On January 11, Rubio questioned Tillerson during a senate committee hearing on his confirmation, saying afterward he would "do what's right".[150] On January 23, Rubio confirmed that he would vote for Tillerson, stating that a delay in the appointment would be counter to national interests.[151]

Committee assignments

In the U.S. Senate, he chairs the Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, as well as the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women's Issues. His committee memberships are as follows.[152][153]

2016 presidential campaign

Rubio speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland

Rubio stated in April 2014 that he would not run for both the Senate and President in 2016, as Florida law prohibits a candidate from appearing twice on a ballot, but at that time he did not rule out running for either office.[154] He has since indicated that, even if he does not win the Republican nomination for president, he does not plan to run for reelection to the Senate.[155] Also 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 departed to lead Rubio's Reclaim America PAC as a senior adviser.[156][157] 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.[158]

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 suggested that Rubio was not disliked by the primary voters, which was thought to be positive for him if other candidates had chosen not to run.[159] Rubio placed second among potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates in an online poll of likely voters conducted by Zogby Analytics in January 2015.[160][161]

In January 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, Mitt Romney, and John McCain.[162][163] Rubio also instructed his aides to "prepare for a presidential campaign" prior to a Team Marco 2016 fundraising meeting in South Beach.[164]

On April 13, 2015, Rubio announced that he would run for President in 2016.[165] Rubio is an acceptable candidate for the 2016 presidential race to many parts of the GOP base, partly because of his youthfulness and oratorical skill.[166][167] Rubio had pitched his candidacy as an effort to restore the American Dream for middle and working-class families, who might have found his background as a working-class Cuban-American appealing.[168]

Republican primaries

In the first Republican primary, the February 1 Iowa caucuses, Rubio finished third, behind candidates Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.[169] During a nationally televised debate among Republican candidates in New Hampshire on February 6, 2016, Rubio was criticized by rival Chris Christie for speaking repetitiously and sounding scripted. On February 9, when he placed fifth in the New Hampshire primary results, Rubio took the blame and acknowledged a poor debate performance.[170] In the third Republican contest, the South Carolina primary on February 20, Rubio finished second, but did not gain any delegates as Trump won all of South Carolina's congressional districts and thus delegates.[171][172] Jeb Bush left the race that day, leading to a surge in campaign donations and endorsements to Rubio. On February 23, Rubio finished second in the Nevada caucuses, again losing to Trump.[173]

At another Republican debate on February 25, Rubio repeatedly criticized frontrunner candidate Donald Trump.[174] It was described by CNN as a "turning point in style" as Rubio had previously largely ignored Trump during his campaign, and this deviated from Rubio's signature "optimistic campaign message". The next day Rubio continued turning Trump's attacks against him,[175] even ridiculing Trump's physical appearance.[176] On March 1, called 'Super Tuesday' with eleven Republican contests on that day, Rubio's sole victory was in Minnesota, the first state he had won since voting began a month prior.[172] Rubio went on to win further contests in Puerto Rico on March 6 and the District of Columbia on March 12, but lost eight other contests from March 5 to 8.[172] Around that time, Rubio revealed he was not "entirely proud" of his personal attacks on Trump.[177]

On March 15, Rubio suspended his campaign after placing second in his own home state of Florida.[176] Hours earlier, Rubio had expressed expectations for a Florida win, and said he would continue to campaign (in Utah) "irrespective of" that night's results.[178] The result was that Rubio won 27.0% of the Florida vote, while Trump won 45.7% and all of Florida's delegates.[179] The conclusion of the six March 15 contests (out of which Rubio won none) left Rubio with 169 delegates on the race to reach 1237, but Ted Cruz already had 411 and Trump 673.[172][180] On March 17, Rubio ruled out runs for the vice-presidency, governorship of Florida and even re-election for his senate seat. He only stated that he would be a "private citizen" by January 2017, leading to some media speculation of the termination of his political career.[181]

After candidacy

On April 12, during an interview with Mark Levin, Rubio expressed his wishes that Republicans would nominate a conservative candidate, name-dropping Cruz.[182] This was interpreted as an endorsement of Cruz, though Rubio clarified the following day that he had only been answering a question.[183] Rubio would later explain his decision to not endorse Cruz being due to his belief that the endorsement would not significantly benefit him and a desire to let the election cycle play out.[184] On April 22, Rubio said he was not interested in being the vice presidential candidate to any of the remaining GOP contenders.[185] On May 16, Rubio posted several tweets in which he critiqued sources reporting that he despised the Senate and a Washington Post story that claimed he was unsure of his next move after his unsuccessful presidential bid, typing, "I have only said like 10000 times I will be a private citizen in January."[186]

On May 18, after Trump expressed a willingness to meet with Kim Jong-un, Rubio said Kim was "not a stable person" and furthered that Trump was only open to the meeting due to inexperience with the North Korea leader.[187] On May 26, Rubio told reporters that he was backing Trump due to his view that the presumptive nominee was a better choice than Hillary Clinton for the presidency and that as president, Trump would sign a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and replace the late Antonin Scalia with another conservative Supreme Court Justice.[188] He also confirmed that he would be attending the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, where he intended to release his pledged delegates to support Trump.[189] On May 29, Rubio continued disavowing vice presidential speculation but indicated an interest in playing a role in Trump's campaign.[190] On June 6, Rubio rebuked Trump's comments on Gonzalo P. Curiel, who Trump accused of being biased against him on the basis of his ethnicity, as "offensive" while speaking with reporters, advising that Trump should cease defending the remarks and defending the judge as "an American."[191]

On July 6, Olivia Perez-Cubas, Rubio's Senate campaign spokeswoman, said he would not be attending the Republican National Convention due to planned campaigning on the days the convention was scheduled to take place.[192]

During the Republican primary campaign in which Rubio and Donald Trump were opponents, Rubio criticized Trump,[193] including, in February 2016, calling Trump a "con artist" and saying that Trump is "wholly unprepared to be president of the United States."[194] In June 2016, after Trump became the presumptive GOP nominee, Rubio reaffirmed his February 2016 comments that we must not hand "the nuclear codes of the United States to an erratic individual."[195] However, after Trump won the Republican Party's nomination, Rubio endorsed him on July 20, 2016.[196] Following the October 7, 2016, Donald Trump Access Hollywood controversy, Rubio wrote that "Donald's comments were vulgar, egregious & impossible to justify. No one should ever talk about any woman in those terms, even in private."[197] On October 11, 2016, Rubio reaffirmed his support of Trump.[198] On October 25, 2016, it was reported that Rubio was booed off a stage for endorsing Trump by a crowd of mostly Latino voters, at the annual Calle Orange street festival in downtown Orlando.[199]

Political positions

Marco Rubio is a strong supporter of immigration to the USA from around the world. While he feels personal affinity for Hispanic immigrants, he believes immigration rights should be granted without regard for creed or color. In this light, he voted against imposing restrictions on Muslim immigration.[200] He also wants to grant US citizenship to most illegal immigrants already in the country.

Rubio initially won his U.S. Senate seat with strong Tea Party backing, but his 2013 support for comprehensive immigration reform legislation led to a backlash among this group.[201][202]

In early 2015, Rubio had a rating of 98.67 by the American Conservative Union, based on his lifetime voting record in the Senate. According to the National Journal, in 2013 Rubio had been the 17th most "conservative" senator.[203] The Club for Growth gave Rubio ratings of 93 percent and 91 percent based on his voting record in 2014 and 2013 respectively, and he has a lifetime rating from the organization above 90 percent.[207]

File:Marco Rubio by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
Senator Rubio speaking at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland

Rubio's stance on military, foreign policy and national security issues—such as his support for arming the Syrian rebels and for the NSA—alienated some libertarian-oriented Tea Party activists.[202][208]

Rubio supports balancing the federal budget, while prioritizing defense spending. He disputes the scientific understanding of climate change, arguing that human activity does not play a major role in global warming and that proposals to address climate change would be ineffective and economically harmful.[209][210][211] On Obamacare, he wants to repeal it and replace it with tax credits and less regulation. He opposes net neutrality, a principle of requiring Internet service providers to treat data on the Internet the same regardless of its source or content. With regard to immigration, he supports securing the country's borders and then offering a legal status to people who came to the United States unlawfully. He also believes there should be more vetting of refugees and that seeking a single comprehensive immigration reform bill would be delusional.

Rubio opposes decriminalization of illegal drugs, does not agree with cannabis legalization, but does support non-euphoric medical cannabis.[215] Rubio supports setting corporate taxes at 25 percent, reforming the tax code, and capping economic regulations, and proposes to increase the social security retirement age based on longer life expectancy. On education, he supports expanding public charter schools, opposes Common Core State Standards, and advocates closing the federal Department of Education.[216]

Rubio supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq and military intervention in Libya.[217] Regarding Iran, he supports tough sanctions, and scrapping the recent nuclear deal; on the Islamic State, he favors aiding local Sunni forces in Iraq and Syria.[218][219] Rubio says that the United States cannot accept more Syrian refugees because background checks cannot be done under present circumstances. He supports working with allies to set up no-fly zones in Syria to protect civilians from Bashar al-Assad. He favors collection of bulk metadata for purposes of national security. He has said that gun control laws consistently fail to achieve their purpose. He is supportive of the Trans Pacific Partnership, saying that the U.S. risks being excluded from global trade unless it is more open to trade. He is wary of China regarding national security and human rights, and wants to boost the U.S. military presence in that region but hopes for greater economic growth as a result of trading with that country. He also believes the U.S. should support democracy, freedom, and true autonomy of the people of Hong Kong.[220][221][222][223] On capital punishment, Rubio favors streamlining the appeals process.[219]

Assassination plot

In mid-July 2017, reporters in Washington, D.C. observed an increased security presence surrounding Rubio. A month later on August 13, 2017, The Miami Herald reported that Diosdado Cabello, a high-ranking Venezuelan official, had initiated an assassination plot targeting Rubio, allegedly contacting Mexican nationals to discuss killing Rubio. Rubio, who is a critic of the Venezuelan government, has led an effort in the United States government to take action against corrupt officials of the Latin American government, often singling out Cabello. The Department of Homeland Security could not verify all of the details involved in the threat, though the plan was serious enough that multiple law enforcement agencies were contacted about the incident and Rubio's security detail had increased in size.[224]

Personal life

Rubio, and wife Jeanette, just after being sworn as a U.S. Senator by Vice President Joe Biden. January 2011

Rubio married Jeanette Dousdebes, a former bank teller and Miami Dolphins cheerleader, in 1998 in a Catholic ceremony at the Church of the Little Flower, and together they have four children.[225][226] Rubio and his family live in West Miami, Florida.[17]

Rubio attends Catholic Mass at Church of the Little Flower in Coral Gables, Florida.[227] He also previously attended Christ Fellowship, a Southern Baptist Church[228] in West Kendall, Florida.[229]

Electoral history

Florida House of Representatives 111th District Special Republican Primary election, 1999
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Angel Zayon 1,003 38%
Republican Marco Rubio 958 36%
Republican Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat 453 17%
Republican Jose Luis Rodriguez 264 10%
Florida House of Representatives 111th District Special Republican Primary Runoff election, 2000
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Marco Rubio 1,415 51%
Republican Angel Zayon 1,351 49%
Florida House of Representatives 111th District Special election, 2000
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Marco Rubio 3,152 72%
Democratic Anastasia Garcia 1,250 28%
Florida House of Representatives 111th District election, 2000
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Marco Rubio -- 100%
Florida House of Representatives 111th District election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Marco Rubio -- 100%
Florida House of Representatives 111th District election, 2004
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Marco Rubio 26,741 66%
Democratic Laura Leyva 13,564 34%
Florida House of Representatives 111th District election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Marco Rubio -- 100%

Vote totals in races where Rubio was unopposed were not reported.

United States Senate election in Florida, 2010
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Marco Rubio 2,645,743 49%
Independent Charlie Crist 1,607,549 30%
Democratic Kendrick Meek 1,092,936 20%
Libertarian Alexander Snitker 24,850 <1%
United States Senate election in Florida, 2016
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Marco Rubio (Incumbent) 4,822,182 52% +3%
Democratic Patrick Murphy 4,105,251 44%
Libertarian Paul Stanton 196,198 2%
Independent Bruce Nathan 52,274 <1%


  • 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future. Regnery Publishing. 2006. ISBN 978-1596985117.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • An American Son: A Memoir. Sentinel HC. 2012. ISBN 978-1595230942.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone. Sentinel HC. 2015. ISBN 978-1595231130.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

See also


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