The story of a Cuban-American politician on the Republican fast track.
Born in 1971, Marco Antonio Rubio rose rapidly from West Miami city commissioner to Florida house speaker to his current post as junior U.S. senator from Florida. His rapid rise has led many to predict he will one day be elected president. “American politics had never seen anything like him: a young, made-for-YouTube Hispanic Republican with realistic national prospects,” writes Washington Post reporter Roig-Franzia. The author begins with the Rubio family’s arrival in the U.S. in 1956, during the last years of the Batista regime. In need of work, Rubio’s grandfather, a bartender, returned to Castro’s Cuba in 1959 and took a minor treasury post. Three years later, uneasy with Castro’s regime, he returned to Miami and became a permanent resident in 1967. Rubio grew up in Miami’s Little Havana and moved with his family to Las Vegas for several years, where he was baptized a Mormon. It was the first of several changes in his religious affiliation. Born Roman Catholic, Rubio returned to Catholicism when the family came back to Miami, where he played football in high school and studied law at the University of Miami. Later, in what his staff calls his “faith journey,” he would straddle the Baptist and Catholic faiths. Entering politics in his mid-20s, he quickly won right-wing establishment mentors, notably former Florida governor Jeb Bush. In 2009, he was saluted in a National Review cover story. Drawing on interviews, Roig-Franzia details controversies over Rubio’s credit card spending while in the Florida house, his attempts to claim a place as the son of Castro exiles, and his inspiring abilities as a public speaker. Now, writes the author, Rubio is a “cagey political veteran” whose national influence far exceeds his seniority in Congress.
A solid, well-written, anecdote-filled political biography.