HOMOPHOBE MARCO LISTENS: ‘Why Do You Want to Put Me Back in the Closet?’


‘Why Do You Want to Put Me Back in the Closet?’

A middle-aged gay man confronted Senator Marco Rubio here on Monday over his opposition to same-sex marriage, pointedly asking, “Why do you want to put me back in the closet?”

“I don’t,” Mr. Rubio replied. “You can live any way you want.”

The tense exchange inside the Puritan Backroom diner ended with Mr. Rubio walking away and the displeased voter calling him a “typical politician.”

Mr. Rubio, who is seeking to win over conservatives, is seldom asked about gay rights at his campaign stops. But courting voters in a crowded New Hampshire diner on the eve of the primary is an unpredictable business.

The voter, who identified himself as Timothy Kierstead, was seated at a table with his mother and his husband when Mr. Rubio walked up behind him, according to pool reports of the encounter. During a brief conversation, Mr. Kierstead, 50, told Mr. Rubio that he was married but complained that the senator’s position amounted to him declaring that “we don’t matter.”

Mr. Rubio, who was standing with his youngest son, Dominick, 8, by his side, gently disagreed. “No, I just believe marriage is between one man and one woman.”

“Well,” replied Mr. Kierstead, “that’s your belief.”

Mr. Rubio continued: “I think that’s what the law should be. And if you don’t agree you should have the law changed by a legislature.”

Mr. Kierstead said the law had already been changed, referring either to a Supreme Court ruling that has legalized same-sex marriage across the country or to state legislation in New Hampshire that did the same.

Mr. Rubio decided to conclude their conversation. “I respect your view,” he said, patting Mr. Kierstead on the shoulder and starting to walk away.


Timothy Kierstead spoke to Senator Marco Rubio during a campaign stop in Manchester, N.H., on Monday.Credit Jewel Samad/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Kierstead was unsatisfied. “Typical politician,” he said loudly. “Walk away.”

In an interview afterward, Mr. Kierstead offered a portrait of his life: He owns a restaurant in Manchester, and he and his husband have three children. He is a registered independent and said he would cast his vote for a Democrat on Tuesday because Republicans did not support his right to marry.

“They want to take my rights away as a citizen of the United States,” said Kierstead said.

“Love is love,” he added. “People don’t choose who they are going to love.”

Mr. Kierstead said his mother and husband had approved of his confrontation with Mr. Rubio, for the most part. “He knew I wouldn’t shut up,” he said of his spouse.

Sexuality, it seems, was a recurring theme during Mr. Rubio’s visit to the diner. A different patron in the same restaurant, a 92-year-old woman, asked Mr. Rubio about the personal life of Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

“He’s a bachelor, right?” the woman asked.

“He is,” Mr. Rubio said.

Then she asked, “Is he gay?”

Mr. Rubio chuckled. “No,” he replied.

Find out what you need to know about the 2016 presidential race today, and get politics news updates via FacebookTwitter and the First Draft newsletter.

PLAGIARISM: Marco Rubio STEALS President Obama’s Speech, Any New Ideas?



Marco Rubio, in his land of make-believe where people can’t remember what happened 8 years ago, claims he can run the country, however his staff can’t even write original speeches! Rubio is being accused of plagiarism after his speech last night in Iowa. It started off really well until he had to use his own words and no longer pick from an old speech by President Obama.

Rubio gave his victory speech last night, his victory of coming in THIRD place behind both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. His speech began:

‘So this is the moment they said would never happen. For months, for months they told us we had no chance. For months they told us because we offer too much optimism in a time of anger, we had no chance. For months they told us because we didn’t have the right endorsements or the right political connections, we had no chance. They told me that we have no chance because my hair wasn’t gray enough and my boots were too high.’

This opening is almost word for word Obama’s victory speech he gave at Iowa caucus from 2008, which he WON, the similarities are astounding.

Obama’s speech began with:

‘They said this day would never come. They said our sights were set too high. They said this country was too divided, too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose. But on this January night, at this defining moment in history, you have done what the cynics said we couldn’t do.’

As with every knock-off, Rubio’s speech was not nearly as powerful and inspiring as Obama’s. The President’s glorious speech stomps all over Rubio’s substandard attempt at stealing the glory. It is apparent Rubio has never had to live in the real world where people aren’t allowed to steal intellectual property from others; a world where people can’t just plagiarize and get by with bulls****ting.

The Republican party is big on trying to make the Democratic party look bad, and spreading lies about President Obama. There will not be a time when Rubio will publicly admit taking Obama’s speech and attempting to make it his own. Obama’s speech writer tweeted in regards to Rubio’s speech, “He could’ve at least thanked Obama for his opening line.”

Obama wowed the crowd with his powerful speech, appealing to people of all ages. Rubio was hoping to do the same piggy-backing off of Obama’s work. Rubio may aspire to be Obama and lead in his footsteps, but Rubio will never be anything like Obama. He is lacking the wow factor, his speeches have no power, and he often fades into the background. How can Rubio lead a country when he can’t even lead his own speeches?

Watch the knock-off of Obama’s speech below:

Cuban migrant crisis spells trouble for Marco Rubio


The Cubans are coming — and the timing couldn’t be worse for Marco Rubio.

As the Florida senator tries to fend off attacks from left and right about his stance on immigration, about 8,000 Cuban migrants are making their way to the United States’ southern border, with the first dozens recently reaching the Texas border.

They’re hoping to benefit from a decades-old policy that allows Cubans to get U.S. residency when they set foot in the country. Their arrival will put the Cuban-American GOP presidential candidate squarely in the spotlight, caught between a party looking for a hardline stance on immigration and a community calling him a “traitor” and flip-flopper.

“With all this talk about walls, national security and enforcing the border, this is a hell of a bad time for thousands of Cubans to be showing up at the border with Mexico with the expectation to get into the United States,” said Republican strategist, CNN commentator and Rubio friend Ana Navarro.

The political climate is ripe for the mass migration to crash the 2016 conversation. Immigration has been a central topic in the Republican primary, with front-runners like billionaire businessman Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz picking up large amounts of support for backing heavy border security and tough measures against illegal immigration.

Rubio has been a frequent target of their attacks. He’s caught in a bind between criticism from the GOP base on past efforts to reach a bipartisan deal on immigration reform — derided as “amnesty” by his opponents — and his desire to rally Hispanic support in a general election contest.

The migration

Cubans entering the U.S. have skyrocketed in the past year since President Barack Obama announced he would normalize relations with their homeland, with Cuban immigration jumping 78% over fiscal year 2014 and doubling from the period of January to March after his announcement, according to  Pew Research Center In that three-month window, 9,900 Cubans entered the U.S.

Rumors that the United States could soon do away with its policy of letting Cuban immigrants stay in the U.S. and qualify for benefits if they make it here — unlike other Latin American immigrant groups — has spurred an arduous journey for thousands through Central America hoping to cross the Mexican border.

Though the Obama administration has denied any impending change to the policy, the Castro regime has long opposed it and Cubans fear Washington will scrap it as part of the rapprochement.

Hot-button political issue

Immigration, meanwhile, has for years been a hot-button issue for both Democrats and Republicans, and the temperature has only increased during the 2016 race.

Trump’s rise to the top has come in part from advocating building a wall along the Mexican border, deporting undocumented immigrants and temporarily banning all Muslims from entering the United States.

Cruz, like Rubio a freshman senator and the child of a Cuban immigrant, has adopted policies only a tad less aggressive than Trump, mimicking his call for a wall with Mexico and running as a longtime border security hawk.

The positive response from the Republican grass roots has made it hard for Republicans who are moderate on immigration to gain traction. And the Cuban migration effort will make that dance even tougher for candidates, like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who have tried to express empathy towards undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S.

But none of the candidates are likely to feel the glare of the spotlight like Rubio, who is Cuban-Amerian, having supported a path to citizenship in the past and running a campaign on how connected he is to the immigrant community. The fact that he also has a hefty lead over Bush and Kasich in the polls also ensures he’ll come under fire from competitors on the issue.

A super PAC supportive of Cruz has already released a brutal attack ad even before the Cuban issue has risen to the surface. It uses Rubio’s own words and the words’ of his Democratic allies to paint him as a flip-flopper who ultimately supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers as evidenced by his participation in drafting bipartisan immigration reform — which he has since distanced himself from.

“His fingerprints are all over that bill,” New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer says of Rubio in a 2015 interview clip.

Rubio’s roots

The Florida senator is himself the child of Cuban immigrants, was the first Cuban-American speaker of the Florida Legislature and represents the biggest concentration of Cubans in the United States.

He is fond of calling attention to his background on the trail, saying his closeness to immigration gives him the best insight of any candidate.

“Of all the people running, no one understands it better than I do,” he said last Wednesday in South Carolina, pointing out that his and his wife’s parents and grandparents, like all his neighbors, were immigrants. “I understand this issue, the good, the bad, the ugly.”

His closeness with the Hispanic community is seen as an asset for the general election, given their growing vote, and Rubio’s history of moderation on immigration could help him peel votes from a Democrat like Hillary Clinton.

Given the blowback from some conservatives, Navarro said at this point in the campaign, Rubio should be “paying” for protesters to heckle him as harsh on immigration, as they did in Columbia, South Carolina, earlier this month, but Navarro said embracing that image too tightly could hurt his long-term general election prospects.

Rubio has chosen to pursue a harder line on immigration since announcing as a GOP candidate, and introduced legislation last week in the Senate that would roll back some benefits to Cubans unless they are legitimate political refugees.

He has also distanced himself from the comprehensive immigration reform he tried to get passed in 2013 along with Schumer and other senators in the so-called Gang of Eight. It would have created a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, but the bill died in the House.

Rubio has since said he no longer believes in comprehensive immigration reform and that the government must prove a commitment to enforcing its immigration laws before any attempt is made at reforming them.

And he has said that he would not welcome the migrants making their way to the U.S., calling it “unacceptable” for migrants to try to enter through Central America and the southern border.

“You’ve seen a huge upsurge now after the deal the President made with the Castro brothers, and it’s becoming a real crisis,” Rubio told reporters in New Hampshire two weeks ago, part of comments about the legislation from the 1960s that created the special allowance for Cuban migrants to stay in the U.S. and apply for benefits.

“We’re going to have to reexamine not just the Cuban Adjustment Act and make changes to it based on new realities but also the benefits people are qualifying for,” Rubio said.

The Cuban view

Cuban-Americans hold a different view. In a December survey of 400 Cubans and Cuban-Americans conducted by Bendixen & Amandi International, 65% said Cubans stranded in Central America should be allowed to come to the United States, with less than 20% saying they should be sent back to Cuba.

Cubans in the U.S. are more split on whether to continue the Cuban Adjustment Act, but a minority support repealing it all together.

Rubio has long toed a careful line on Cuban immigration, hesitant to embrace preferential treatment and making special note in a 2011 Politico op-ed that while his parents came to the United States pre-Castro, they did so “legally on an immigration visa … not, as some have said before, as part of some special privilege reserved only for Cubans.”

But that line, along with his hardening stance during the GOP primary race, has antagonized the left. In South Carolina earlier this month, he was repeatedly interrupted by protesters, who accused him of being a traitor to the Hispanic community.

“He’s very much an immigrant traitor,” said Julieta Garibay, deputy advocacy director for United We Dream, a group that focuses on undocumented youth and was behind the protests. “He plays this card of, ‘I have an immigrant background and I’m proud of my parents,’ but yet he puts out this legislation that would definitely negatively impact folks coming from Cuba,” she continued.”It’s a disgrace.”

Cristóbal Alex, president of the Latino Victory Project, said Rubio cannot “unburn the bridge” that he cut with the Latino community when he backtracked on immigration reform.

“He really is caught between a rock and a hard place,” Alex said. “He could be just completely stuck in this uncomfortable area for him that doesn’t allow him to regain his footing with the Latino community (while) folks that are running for president on the Republican side will continue to go after him for.”

A path to success

Rubio may still be able to find a way through the muddle. His approach so far has been to portray himself as the adult in the room.

“I was here a few days ago repeatedly heckled by this group … and I told them, ‘We’re going to enforce our immigration laws,'” Rubio told a crowd in South Carolina last Wednesday. “As the son and grandson of immigrants, I know for a fact that enforcing our immigration laws is not anti-immigrant, it’s what sovereign countries do.”

His bill to curtail abuses of benefits by Cubans has general support in the Cuban-American community and has been signed onto by other Cuban lawmakers from Florida.

“Marco is experienced and pretty good at navigating the waters where immigration and (the) Cuba debate intersect, and he is attuned to the pulse of the community in South Florida,” said Navarro, the political analyst.

Experts on the situation in Havana said Republicans — historically strong supporters of the Cuban-American community — could thread the needle and make a case to Americans that Cubans deserve a special provision of immigration policy not afforded to other migrant groups even as they pitch border security.

“Most of the candidates have been leaning to really tighten the borders, and then they’ll say, ‘Except for Cubans, because the Castros are still controlling the country, and Obama’s negotiating with dictators,'” said Ted Piccone, a senior fellow and Cuba expert with the Washington-based Brookings Institution. “It allows them to toe the line in a rational way.”


LIAR: Rubio wrongly credits Reagan for 1981 release of hostages from Iran


LIAR: Rubio wrongly credits Reagan for 1981 release of hostages from Iran!

Presidential candidate Marco Rubio said the United States should not have made any concessions to Iran. Part of the deal included Obama granting clemency to seven Iranians charged in U.S. courts with violating economic sanctions against Iran.

“Our enemies now know that if you can capture an American, you can get something meaningful in exchange for it,” Rubio said on Meet the Press on Jan. 17, 2016.

Host Chuck Todd pressed Rubio on that position: “So under President Rubio, you would not have negotiated any sort of prisoner exchange for those four American hostages?”

Rubio replied: “When I become president of the United States, our adversaries around the world will know that America is no longer under the command of someone weak like Barack Obama, and it will be like Ronald Reagan, where as soon as he took office the hostages were released from Iran.”

We flagged Rubio’s comment as a misleading framing of history. Reagan’s inauguration in 1981 may have coincided with the release of the hostages, but historians say it did not cause it. Instead, the Iranians had tired of holding the hostages, and that the administration of Jimmy Carter did the legwork to get the hostages released.

We asked the Rubio campaign for response but did not hear back.

The hostage crisis of 1979

It’s a GOP talking point we’ve debunked before. In 2012, Republican candidate Mitt Romney said, “I believe the right course is what Ronald Reagan called peace through strength … There’s a reason why the Iranians released the hostages on the same day and at the same hour that Reagan was sworn in.” We rated his claim Pants on Fire.

In 1979, Islamic revolutionaries overthrew the Shah of Iran, who had been installed and supported by successive U.S. administrations. Militants took over the American embassy and held 52 American hostages from Nov. 4, 1979, until Jan. 20, 1981 — the day Carter passed the reins to Reagan, who had defeated him amid widespread public disapproval of Carter’s handling of the crisis.

But negotiations for the hostages’ release started well before Election Day. In September 1980, the Iranians contacted the Carter administration with a proposal, according to Gary Sick, a Columbia University professor and the author of October Surprise: America’s Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan.

The agreement that led to the release involved $11 billion to $12 billion in Iranian assets that Carter had frozen 10 days after the seizure of the U.S. embassy. Sick told us that the Iranians feared having to start negotiations over with a new administration and believed that they had extracted most of the benefits from holding the hostages.

Carter informed Reagan at 8:31 a.m. that the release of the hostages was imminent, according to a contemporary report in the New York Times. “The hostages, whose 14 months of captivity had been a central focus of the presidential contest last year, took off from Tehran in two Boeing 727 airplanes at 12:25 p.m., Eastern standard time, the very moment that Mr. Reagan was concluding his solemn Inaugural Address at the United States Capitol,” its report says. Reagan announced the news at 2:15 p.m. at a luncheon with congressional leaders in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall. So Reagan, not Carter, got to bask in the glow of the hostages’ safe return.

Despite the showy announcement, scholars of the period say that Reagan did not play any significant role in freeing the hostages.

“Well before Reagan became president, the deal for releasing the hostages had already been worked out by the Carter administration’s State Department and the Iranians, ably assisted by Algerian diplomats,” said David Farber, author of Taken Hostage: The Iranian Hostage Crisis and America’s First Encounter with Radical Islam.

No Reagan administration officials participated in the negotiations, Farber said, and the Iranians waited to officially release the Americans as a final insult to Carter, whom they despised.

“They believed Carter had betrayed the Iranian revolution by allowing the self-exiled Shah to receive medical attention in the United States and then had threatened their new government by attempting, unsuccessfully, to use military force in April 1980 to free the hostages,” Farber said.

Dave Houghton, a political scientist and author of U.S. Foreign Policy and the Iran Hostage Crisis, told PolitiFact that Iran had a relatively unsophisticated grasp of U.S. politics, and that it was possible that the Iranians “didn’t even know what Reagan had said on the campaign trail.”

“I don’t think they were scared into the release,” Houghton said. “In all likelihood, they released the hostages because they needed the sanctions we’d placed on them lifted so they could finance their war with Iraq.”

Rubio’s comments are a misreading of history, said Michael Gunter, professor of political science at Tennessee Technological University, who has authored several papers on the 1981 hostage release.

“It is clear that Sen. Marco Rubio is falling back on an exaggerated urban legend that the only way to deal with Iran is through implied threats of military retaliation, as President Reagan supposedly did,” he said. “Actually, successful U.S. diplomacy then and now played the most significant role.”

Our ruling

Rubio said that Iranian hostages were released in 1981 as Reagan took office because Iran perceived that America was “no longer under the command of someone weak.” In reality, Reagan’s foreign policy approach wasn’t a factor in the hostages’ release, as scholars told us. The Carter administration negotiated the deal months before Reagan’s inauguration, without involvement by Reagan or his transition team. Rubio’s claim is an imaginative re-reading of history. We rate the statement Pants On Fire.


Marco Rubio Suggests His Supreme Court Would Roll Back Marriage Equality


“I will appoint Supreme Court justices that will interpret the Constitution as originally constructed.”

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio suggested that the justices he nominates to the Supreme Court may roll back marriage equality, in an interview that aired Sunday.

The Florida senator cited Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” during an interview with Chuck Todd on “Meet The Press” and said he disagreed with the Supreme Court’s decision that struck down state bans on same-sex marriage. Rubio said that “no one should ever be compelled to sin by law” and that a minister should not be compelled to marry a same-sex couple, which is not something that has happened.

“I don’t believe any case law is settled law. Any future Supreme Court can change it. And ultimately, I will appoint Supreme Court justices that will interpret the Constitution as originally constructed,” Rubio said.

Rubio dismissed the idea of attempting to pass a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage because, he said, “I don’t think the current Constitution gives the federal government the power to regulate marriage.”

He disagreed with the Supreme Court’s ruling that state bans on same-sex marriage discriminate against gays and lesbians.

“It’s not about discrimination. It is about the definition of a very specific, traditional, and age-old institution,” he said. “If you want to change it, you have a right to petition your state legislature and your elected representatives to do it. What is wrong is that the Supreme Court has found this hidden constitutional right that 200 years of jurisprudence had not discovered and basically overturn the will of voters in Florida, where over 60 percent passed a constitutional amendment that defined marriage in the state constitution as the union of one man and one woman.”




After a Syrian passport was found next to the body of one of the perpetrators of last week’s Paris attacks, 27 state governors announced that they will refuse to receive any of the 10,000 Syrian refugees granted asylum by the Obama administration. Former Florida governor and current Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush appeared on CBS This Morning on Monday to say the United States should focus on taking in Christian Syrians only.

For their parts, Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida — both running for president as well — argued that the United States can’t afford to take in Syrian refugees who might have a terrorist or two among their ranks. Cruz will introduce a bill that would put Jeb’s proposal into action, barring Syrian Muslims from entering the country but opening America’s door to Christians.

Rubio doesn’t believe the United States should accept any of the refugees fleeing civil war and religious persecution in Syrian, saying in an ABC interview, “It’s not that we don’t want to. It’s that we can’t.”

While U.S. leaders are debating whether America can afford to provide sanctuary to Syrian refuges, reports are surfacing of the over 28,000 Cubans migrants who have crossed the Texas-Mexico border in the fiscal year ending September 30. When Costa Rica granted travel visas to the 1200 Cubans who had made it there — after flying to Ecuador, crossing into Colombia, sailing to Panama, and then crossing into Costa Rica — Nicaraguan security forces shot tear gas into crowds of Cuban migrants trying to cross its southern border on their way through Central America and to the United States.

Strangely enough, Nicaragua, as a communist country, is actually close allies with Cuba, and we have yet to see how the Cuban government will respond to such mistreatment against its former citizens. (It may be that Havana thinks nothing of it, since any Cuban who leaves the island is traditionally viewed as a traitor to the revolution.)

Of course, Senators Cruz and Rubio are Cuban Americans themselves, and are constantly crowing about being the sons of Cuban refugees who fled persecution in Communist Cuba (although Rubio’s grandfather actually fled Batista’s Cuba and returned weeks after Fidel took power, only to flee his homeland again a few years later). Both Republican senators wax on and on about how the United States opened her arms to their forebears and embraced them as new Americans.

But now that millions of Syrians are fleeing conflicts largely ignited by Republican warmongering, these two sons of refugees feel the United States can ill afford to embrace asylum seekers from other countries. In fact, they didn’t believe the country should have taken in the desperate mothers and children who flooded across the U.S.-Mexico border in the summer of 2014; their suggestion then was to round up “the huddled masses yearning to breathe free” and ship them back to whatever hellhole they escaped from.

The influx of Cuban migrants is due the United States’ longstanding practice of granting Cuban immigrants on U.S. soil a fast track to permanent residency — a policy known as “Wet Foot, Dry Foot,” since any seagoing Cuban who steps foot on a South Florida beach receives the same treatment. The announcement last December that the United States and Cuba would resume diplomatic relations has many Cubans convinced that the decades-old policy is in its final days, and many are hoping to take advantage of their special immigration status before it’s too late.

To recap: The United States is struggling to find a place for the 10,000 Syrian refugees it has agreed to take in. Meanwhile, nearly three times as many Cubans have been taken in during the past 12 months.

Senators Cruz and Rubio don’t seem to have anything to say about that contradiction. I wouldn’t have expected them to either. They have no real principles, after all, only believing in whatever’s good for people like them.

Still, hypocrisy being a notoriously American characteristic, Ted and Marco can rest easy knowing they may be the most American men in the country.


Marco Rubio has a ‘big money’ problem: Fiscal Responsible NOT!


As the race heats up for the White House, new attention is being paid to questions raised about the way Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) used campaign cash during his time in the Sunshine State’s Legislature.

When Rubio entered the Florida House of Representatives in 2000, the then 28-year-old was laden with debt. The Tampa Bay Times described him as “barely solvent” as he plotted his ascent to Speaker of the House in 2006 and the lead up to his 2009 run for the U.S. Senate. During this time, Rubio apparently used the resources of his two political committees and an American Express credit card from the state Republican Party for some of his personal expenses.

The Miami Herald and the Tampa Bay Times investigated Rubio’s questionable bookkeeping in 2010. Those reports showed Rubio’s free use of his party credit card to cover personal expenses like a $135 haircuttrip to a local liquor store and $10,000 family vacation. Rubio said at the time that honest bookkeeping mistakes were made and insisted he reimbursed the state party when necessary to pay for personal charges.

Mother Jones revisited those reports this week and suggested Rubio’s handling of his finances could “bring national scrutiny” and haunt him as he is poised to pursue a White House bid in 2016.

Reached for comment, Rubio spokeswoman Brooke Sammon dismissed the Mother Jones and Florida press reports.

“That report was nothing more than proven inaccuracies and false attacks from liberals trying to distract from Senator Rubio’s optimistic vision for our country in the 21st century,” Sammon told Business Insider.

The allegations surrounding Rubio’s finances fall in two major areas, his credit card usage and his political committees.

Rubio’s American Express credit card from the Florida Republican Party

  • Rubio was given an American Express card backed by the Florida GOP from 2005 until Nov. 2008, when he left the State Legislature.
  • Questions emerged in 2010 about more than $100,000 charged to the card, beginning in 2006 when he was elected House Speaker.
  • Rubio defended those charges as legitimate and said he had paid $16,000 to the party to cover personal expenses (like a $135 haircut at a high class Miami barber shop in 2007) that were unrelated to party business.
  • In November 2006, $10,000 was charged to the card for a Rubio family vacation at Melhana Plantation, an antebellum resort in Georgia. Rubio told the Times the charge was a mistake by a travel agent and said he mailed a check directly to American Express to pay for it.
  • Additional personal expenses that were never reimbursed include $68.33 for “beverages” and a “meal” from Happy Wine liquor store near Rubio’s West Miami home that also serve tapas and $765 from Apple’s online store for “computer supplies.”

Political committees:

During his time in the Florida House, Rubio started two separate political committees, Floridians for Conservative Leadership and Floridians for Conservative Leadership in Government. The groups received an estimated $600,000 in less than three years.

Floridians for Conservative Leadership

  • Created in Dec. 2002 with the purpose to “support state and local candidates who espouse conservative government policies,” the committee was seen as a vehicle to drum up support for Rubio’s push to become House speaker in 2006. The entity was registered with the state of Florida, with the ability to give contributions to political candidates.
  • Raised more than $228,000. $4,000 was distributed as direct campaign contributions to other candidates.
  • Rubio’s wife, former Miami Dolphins cheerleader Jeanette Dousdebes, served as committee treasurer. $5,700 was paid to his wife primarily for “gas and meals.”
  • The Committee was registered t0 Rubio’s West Miami home. Close to $85,000 was spent on office/operating costs and $65,000 for administrative costs.
  • Over 18 months, $89,000 was spent on political consultants, $14,000 was paid to Rubio for reimbursements, $51,000 in credit card payments for food, lodging and airfare. No details were provided on who was traveling or the locations of the transactions.
  • A 2010 investigation by the Florida newspapers showed that $34,000 in expenses, including a $7,000 reimbursement to Rubio himself, had not been disclosed, as required by state law.
  • Rubio’s then campaign adviser Todd Harris, told the Times in 2010, “The bookkeeping in (that) committee was not always perfect.”

Floridians for Conservative Leadership in Government

  • This committee was created in late 2003, and shut down in 2005, with the mission to educate the public about conservative leadership in government. It raised more than $386,000. The committee was registered with the IRS as a 527 fund, but it was not registered with the state of Florida. It was not allowed to donate money to political candidates.
  • $14,000 paid to his mother-in-law and Rubio relatives for courier services.
  • More than $74,000 in expenses by the committee was never accounted for in papers filed with the IRS.
  • Rubio’s then-campaign adviser said in 2010 the unspecified expenses were for transactions under $500 and did not have to be disclosed by law.

Rubio was dogged by questions about his spending when he ran against then-Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for Senate in 2010. During that campaign, Crist said Rubio used his political committees as “slush funds.” Crist also claimed Rubio used his office in the legislature to “enhance his personal enrichment.”

Rubio managed to escape the scrutiny and was victorious over Crist in 2010.

But now that Rubio is eyeing a larger stage and is expected to run for President in 2016, his history will again be called into question.

Though seen as the underdog in Florida since he will presumably face his former mentor, the state’s former Gov. Jeb Bush (R) in the Republican primary race, Rubio is still seen as a serious contender.

The Washington Post reported this week that Rubio is expected to receive $10 million in backing from billionaire Miami car dealer Norman Braman in the presidential race. (Rubio’s wife works part time for Braman’s charitable foundation.)

Updated (5:15 p.m.): With comment from Rubio’s office. 


Marco Rubio’s Career Bedeviled by Financial Struggles

WEST MIAMI, Fla. — For years, Senator Marco Rubio struggled under the weight of student debt, mortgages and an extra loan against the value of his home totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. But in 2012, financial salvation seemed to have arrived: A publisher paid him $800,000 to write a book about growing up as the son of Cuban immigrants.

In speeches, Mr. Rubio, a Florida Republican, spoke of his prudent plan for using the cash to finally pay off his law school loans, expressing relief that he no longer owed “a lady named Sallie Mae,” as he once called the lender.

But at the same time, he splurged on an extravagant purchase: $80,000 for a luxury speedboat, state records show. At the time, Mr. Rubio confided to a friend that it was a potentially inadvisable outlay that he could not resist. The 24-foot boat, he said, fulfilled a dream.

Supporters at a book promotion in Miami in February.CreditAngel Valentin for The New York Times 

Many of those troubles have played out in an unusually public way, leading even some of his supporters to worry. As he rose in politics, he sometimes intermingled personal and political money — using a state Republican Party credit card years ago to pay for a paving project at his home and for travel to a family reunion, and putting his relatives on campaign payrolls.

Other moves seemed simply unwise: A few weeks ago, he disclosed that he had liquidated a $68,000 retirement account, a move that is widely discouraged by financial experts and that probably cost him about $24,000 in taxes and penalties.

In the past week, he sustained a new loss when he sold his second home in Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, for $18,000 less than he and a friend paid for it a decade ago. The house had previously faced foreclosure after Mr. Rubio and his friend failed to make mortgage payments for five months.

Acknowledging Missteps

These were not isolated incidents. A review of the Rubio family’s finances — including many new documents — reveals a series of decisions over the past 15 years that experts called imprudent: significant debts; a penchant to spend heavily on luxury items like the boat and the lease of a $50,000 2015 Audi Q7; a strikingly low savings rate, even when Mr. Rubio was earning large sums; and inattentive accounting that led to years of unpaid local government fees.

Mr. Rubio has acknowledged missteps: using personal credit cards to pay for his campaigns (a bad idea, he said); appointing his wife, Jeanette, as a treasurer of a political action committee (ill advised, he said); and using the party money for the reunion trip (an accident, he said). Mr. Rubio, in his 2012 memoir, “An American Son,” confessed a “lack of bookkeeping skills” and an “imperfect accounting system.”

In private conversations, Mr. Rubio has told friends that he learned how to manage money through trial and error. His poor, immigrant parents — his father a bartender, his mother a hotel maid — had little money to manage, he told them.

In a statement to The New York Times, Mr. Rubio said, “Like most Americans, I know what it’s like for money to be a limited resource and to have to manage it accordingly.”

He added: “Our primary financial motivation over the last 15 years has not been to become wealthy. It has been to provide for our children a happy upbringing and the chance at a great future.”

Mr. Rubio’s home in West Miami. CreditRyan Stone for The New York Times 

Mr. Rubio’s allies said his financial blunders were the scars of a self-made man, who rose to prominence despite lacking the wealth and connections that eased the path for so many of his rivals.

“It’s a two-edged sword,” said Dennis Baxley, a Florida House member and fellow Republican who served in the Legislature with Mr. Rubio. “That’s part of the excitement of Marco.”

It shows, Mr. Baxley said, that “an ordinary person without the financial support structure can do this with a tremendous amount of drive.”

The Rubios have taken steps to stabilize their finances in recent years, aided primarily by proceeds from his two books. Since 2012, they have put away at least $150,000, given $60,000 to charity and refinanced the mortgage on their primary home to lower the monthly payments. (Mr. Rubio set up college funds for his four children at birth, an aide said.)

But as Mr. Rubio, 44, seeks to counter questions about his stature and readiness for the presidency, his financial history creates particular complications. It has made him unusually reliant on a campaign donor, Norman Braman, a billionaire who subsidized Mr. Rubio’s job as a college instructor, hired him as a lawyer and continues to employ his wife.

And it could undermine Mr. Rubio’s well-crafted political persona: The senator has long portrayed himself as a champion of financial austerity, railing against excessive government spending and runaway debt.

“We have a country,” he said in 2013, “that borrows too much money.” In 2010, he diagnosed the problem this way: “If you allow politicians to spend money, they’ll do it.”

As he campaigns for president, Mr. Rubio is embracing his rough financial patches as he seeks to connect with an electorate saddled with debt and stuck in low-paying jobs. After cashing out the retirement account last year, he explained the decision in a deliberately folksy way: He needed to replace a broken refrigerator, and was also preparing for personal expenses related to his campaign.

“I’m not poor,” he said, “but I’m not rich, either.”

Mitt Romney and Mr. Rubio arriving in Kissimmee, Fla., on a presidential campaign stop in October 2012. Mr. Romney’s campaign flagged Mr. Rubio’s financial issues when vetting him as a possible running mate.CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times 

Mr. Rubio entered public life in a deep financial hole of his own making.

Soon after he was elected to the Legislature in 2000, he reported a net worth of zero, about $150,000 in student loan debt, and $30,000 in what he called assorted credit and retail debt.

It was the inauspicious start to a decade of big financial ups and downs. In interviews, friends and advisers describe Mr. Rubio as a young politician entering public life just out of law school, whose charisma and stardom quickly outstripped his financial acumen, leaving him unprepared to manage the expensive campaigns and lucrative career opportunities that came his way.

By 28, he was juggling a new family, earning a modest salary in the Florida House in addition to his law firm work and nursing a desire for higher office that required continual travel across the state.

“A lot of it was a function of age,” said Mr. Baxley, who mentored Mr. Rubio in the Florida House and remains close to him. “It was very challenging for him. He was a clear example of when you enter early, you have to do all of these things at the same time. And it’s hard to do them all at the same time well.”

Even as his government career took off, Mr. Rubio’s financial picture grew grimmer and the demands of the Legislature endangered his work for the Florida law firm, where his bosses became impatient with his lack of focus.

Despite an income of $90,000 in 2001, Mr. Rubio wrote in his memoir, monthly expenses became so strained that he and his wife sold one of their two cars and, along with their young daughter, moved into the home of his mother-in-law.

But the belt-tightening was short-lived. In 2003, he bought his mother-in-law’s home in West Miami for $175,000, putting no money down.

Within a few years, Mr. Rubio had landed a job at a high-profile Miami law firm paying him $300,000 a year. As he would later do with the proceeds from his book, Mr. Rubio spent heavily.


Mr. Rubio has been financially reliant on Norman Braman, a billionaire who has hired Mr. Rubio and his wife. CreditLynne Sladky/Associated Press 

First, he bought a house in Tallahassee with another state lawmaker for $135,000, again putting no money down.

Then, by the end of 2005, the Rubios had completed the purchase of a new home, twice the size of their previous one, for $550,000. The house, among the more expensive in West Miami, stood out from the aging homes nearby: It includes an in-ground pool, a handsome brick driveway, meticulously manicured shrubs and oversize windows.

Soaring Liabilities

Within a few weeks of the home purchase, Mr. Rubio, then a Republican leader in the House, borrowed $135,000 through a home equity line to pay for improvements to the house, from a politically connected Miami-based bank, U.S. Century, after the house was reappraised at $735,000.

Suddenly the owner of three homes, the Rubios saw their liabilities soar to $1 million from $330,000 in just a year. Harold Evensky, a longtime financial adviser who reviewed Mr. Rubio’s public financial disclosures at the request of The Times, called the rapid accumulation of debt “staggering.”

“This was someone that was living financially dangerously,” Mr. Evensky said.

Little of Mr. Rubio’s income at this time went into savings. An analysis of his financial disclosures by Jude Boudreaux, a longtime financial planner and an adjunct professor at Loyola University New Orleans teaching personal finance, shows that Mr. Rubio earned $2.38 million from 1998 to 2008 but ended up with an estimated net worth of $53,000 (slightly more than Mr. Rubio disclosed himself). His savings rate during that period was about 2 percent.

“Practically nothing,” Mr. Boudreaux said.

It was during this period of growing indebtedness, in the mid-2000s, that Mr. Rubio’s personal finances converged in unusual ways with his political activities. As he climbed the ranks of the Legislature, determined to reach the prestigious post of House speaker, Mr. Rubio set up political action committees to bankroll his political endeavors and obtained a credit card from the Republican Party of Florida.

But he struggled with the new financial responsibilities. “It was a learning curve for him to make sure everything was being paid out of the right canister,” said Mr. Baxley, the lawmaker.

The structure of the PACs was unorthodox, by Mr. Rubio’s own admission. One of them was run by his wife, and was used to reimburse the couple thousands of dollars for meals, gas and long-distance calls. The other employed three of the Rubio family’s relatives.

During his Senate campaign in 2010, his opponents pounced on the arrangement, suggesting he had used the PACs to subsidize his family’s lifestyle. “It wasn’t true,” Mr. Rubio later wrote, “but I had helped create the misunderstanding my opponents exploited.”

His use of the Republican credit card for personal expenses was harder to explain. Records showed that he charged the party’s card for stone pavers at his house and travel to the family reunion in Georgia.

Mr. Rubio blamed a travel agent for the reunion charge and said he had pulled out the wrong credit card to pay for the pavers. “I wish that none of them had ever been charged,” he wrote in his book. He eventually covered the costs of each himself, he said.

But similar practices carried over to Mr. Rubio’s campaign for the Senate, and to the fund-raising group that he created after his election, Reclaim America PAC. A review of campaign finance records shows that Mr. Rubio employed two nephews who had worked for his local PAC years earlier, as well as close friends.

Since 2009, Mr. Rubio’s political organizations have paid at least $90,000 to companies registered by one of the nephews, Orlando Cicilia III, which provided consulting and video production services.

Mr. Rubio’s supporters said his reliance on close friends and even family was not a case of patronage so much as necessity: He was running for the Senate against Florida’s popular governor, Charlie Crist, who commanded the loyalty of the state’s Republican operatives and strategists.

After the race, a new problem arose. The Federal Election Commission repeatedly cited Mr. Rubio’s campaign — and fined it more than $9,000 — for running afoul of campaign finance rules. In one case, the commission found $210,000 in improper donations, many of which violated contribution limits.

The Senate has provided Mr. Rubio with a prestigious platform, to write books, travel the world, deliver speeches and, today, mount a run for the White House. But he has told friends that the job has imposed its own form of financial hardship, and he expressed occasional envy of colleagues in the private sector.

Mr. Rubio’s Senate salary of $174,000 is far less than he earned as a lawyer and consultant, and the Rubio family expenses are significant. All four of their children attend parochial school.

He has looked for other ways to bring in cash: Shortly before running for the Senate, Mr. Rubio agreed to teach at Florida International University, for $69,000 a year. (The salary was later reduced.) Those involved in the negotiations said it was clear that Mr. Rubio’s finances were stretched.

“I think that was an issue,” said Steve Saul, who was vice president for government relations at the university when Mr. Rubio was hired. “He needed the money.”

The Rubios have further supplemented their income with royalties from his two books and Mrs. Rubio’s work for Mr. Braman, Mr. Rubio’s wealthy campaign donor.

But Mrs. Rubio’s firm, JDR Events, has had its own bookkeeping lapses. Over the past few years, she failed to pay annual business licensing fees to the City of West Miami, despite nine written notices and repeated phone calls to her home, records show.

After The Times made an inquiry with the city on May 26, a check arrived from Mrs. Rubio two days later for the $637.50 she still owed. In a handwritten note to the city, she said she had mistakenly believed her payments were up to date.

“My apologies,” she wrote.


Marco Rubio’s personal finances clash with call for fiscal discipline

For a candidate promising to put America’s fiscal house in order, Marco Rubio has a tough time keeping his own house tidy, plagued by questionable spending and sloppy accounting.

On the campaign trail, Rubio likes to say “politicians don’t create jobs.” But politics, directly and indirectly, has generated Rubio’s sizeable income, even as he has accumulated substantial debt and saw one of his homes nearly go into foreclosure.

Florida’s likely next U.S. senator has cut a complicated financial profile since he burst on the political scene more than a decade ago, fresh from law school.

“Now more than ever people are sympathetic to the financial troubles other people have,” said Republican consultant Chris Ingram of Tampa. “But with Marco, it’s greater than that. There seems to be a pattern of behavior in which he’s not good at controlling his own money or the money of others.”

Rubio, 39 and married with four children, dismisses as a distraction talk about his use of a Republican Party of Florida credit card for personal items as well as questions about his employment and mountain of personal debt, largely due to mortgages and student loans.

“Now these are important issues, and we should discuss them, but they can’t be the only issues in this campaign,” he said in a debate Tuesday, accusing his opponents, Democrat Kendrick Meek and independent Charlie Crist, of lacking concrete ideas on an array of issues.

But even as he pulls away in the race, buoyed by early support from tea party activists fed up with government spending, Rubio’s financial dealings continue to draw attention for the contradictions they raise with his message.

Climb to top fueled by political funds

When Rubio joined the Florida House of Representatives in 2000, he did not own a home, had few possessions and made $72,000 as a lawyer.

But he had $30,000 in “assorted credit and retail debt” (as described on his financial disclosure form) and in 2001 listed $165,000 in loans from the University of Florida and University of Miami Law School.

As Rubio climbed the ranks, he began to use little-noticed political committees to fund his travel and other expenses and later had a Republican Party of Florida credit card.

What emerged, records show, is a pattern of blending personal and political spending. Over and over again Rubio proved sloppy, at best, in complying with disclosure requirements.

Virtually broke, the 31-year-old lawmaker began campaigning to be House speaker in 2003 and created a political committee — Floridians for Conservative Leadership — to help elect other Republican candidates and curry their support.

With his wife serving as treasurer, Rubio did not wait for the state to authorize the committee before accepting campaign donations.

The committee listed its address as Rubio’s home, a modest place he and his wife bought in West Miami in 2002, but reported spending nearly $85,000 in office and operating costs and $65,000 for administrative costs.

Over 18 months, nearly $90,000 went for political consultants, $51,000 went for credit card payments and $4,000 went to other candidates. That’s less than the $5,700 that went to his wife, Jeanette, much of it for “gas and meals.” (Mrs. Rubio does not work and the couple file joint tax returns.)

Rubio reported raising more than $228,000 for that committee over 18 months, but he failed to disclose $34,000 in expenses as required by state law.

In four elections between 2000 and 2006, Rubio faced only token opposition. Yet he still spent nearly $670,000 in campaign funds for political consulting, television advertising and other expenses, including meals, travel and, in one case, $1,485 to the company leasing him a Jeep Cherokee. Rubio’s campaign said it was justified because he drove it all over his district.

A second political committee created by Rubio in late 2003, Floridians for Conservative Leadership in Government, was to “educate the public about conservative leadership in government.” The committee raised more than $386,000, much of it going to Rubio’s political strategists and consultants.

Other expenses included $14,000 incorrectly listed as “courier services” that were in fact payments to Rubio’s relatives who he said were helping with the committee’s political activities.

In 2005, Rubio had access to a new source of campaign money: state GOP credit cards. He charged more than $100,000 from November 2006 to November 2008, much of it for travel expenses and meals.

Rubio has insisted that the vast majority of those charges were for GOP business, and he directly paid off any personal expenses, though after a St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald report, Rubio agreed to pay the party $2,400 for plane tickets he said he mistakenly double-billed.

He has refused to release his party credit card records from 2005 and 2006.

Rubio is adamant his use of the political committees and credit cards is above board and has denied reports that the IRS has opened an inquiry, part of a widening look at Republican lawmakers who had credit cards.

“I don’t think it looks good to the public,” said Ben Wilcox, a board member of Common Cause Florida, a government watchdog group. “It’s kind of a slippery slope where people can try to justify just about anything.”

Personal income grows with debt

As he accumulated power, Rubio’s income also grew. The $72,000 he made as a lawyer in 2000 climbed to $92,000 in 2003 then rose dramatically to $270,000 a year later, when he locked down the race to become House speaker. During the time, he was employed by three separate law firms.

In 2005, Rubio got a $300,000 job with Broad and Cassel, a large Miami firm that had done millions of dollars of legal work for the Florida House.

Rubio said in an interview that his income growth is not unlike what any young lawyer would have experienced. And he suggested he could have earned much more if he were not in politics.

“I can’t tell you what I’d be doing had I not run for office,” he said. “I could have started a business or I could be a managing partner at a law firm.”

By 2005, Rubio owned two homes in Miami and one in Tallahassee. The mortgages totaled over $794,000, records show.

In 2008, he abruptly amended his financial disclosure forms after reporters asked why he had not listed a $135,000 home-equity loan he secured on his current home, purchased in December 2005 for $550,000.

The loan came after a Miami bank, controlled by some of Rubio’s political supporters, reappraised the home at $735,000 — only 37 days after it was purchased. Rubio denied favoritism and called the failure to disclose the loan an “oversight.”

More housing trouble surfaced this year. The Tallahassee home, which he bought with fellow legislator David Rivera, nearly went into foreclosure before Rivera came up with $9,525 for missed payments and fees. Rubio said the delay was over a dispute with the mortgage company.

By the time he left office in 2008, Rubio had $903,000 in home, car and student loans. His net worth was a mere $8,332.

While he listed $165,000 in student loans in 2001, nearly a decade later he carries just over $100,000, according to his campaign. He has paid off his undergraduate loans.

Mortgages and student loans are ordinary burdens, Rubio readily points out. “These are the real world issues,” he recently told the Miami Herald editorial board.

And he sought to draw a line between his campaign call for fiscal restraint and his own finances.

“I talk about fiscal conservatism in the context of government spending,” he said. “It’s not in the context of some ideological religious adherence to some rigid ideology. It is in the context of the fact that our government spends more money than it takes in and you cannot do that over a sustained period of time without bankrupting your country.”

Opportunities arose after he left office, too

“Politicians don’t create jobs,” Rubio often says in his stump speech.

Politics, though, played a direct role in Rubio’s finances after he left the House.

• He landed an unadvertised $69,000 teaching job at Florida International University when the school was slashing staff because of budget cuts. (His salary came out of privately raised funds.)

• Also in 2008, he got a job as a political analyst for the Spanish-language TV station Univision, which paid a second dividend: keeping his image in circulation as he pondered his next run for office.

• In June 2008, Rubio formed two businesses, his own law firm and Rubio Consulting, whose clients included Univision and Marin & Sons, a Miami consulting firm headed by a Tallahassee lobbyist. On his financial disclosure form, Rubio wrote “Marin & Sons retains Rubio Consulting to introduce their clients to potential business partners in the community. Rubio Consulting does not lobby before any governmental entity.”

• He joined another consulting partnership called Florida Strategic Consultants that scored big contracts with Miami Children’s and Jackson Memorial hospitals. Rubio said he was providing advice and access to a network of contacts he culled as House speaker. “I’m not a lobbyist,” he insisted then. “It’s not my forte.”

Rubio’s financial history has been a constant thread throughout the election as a source of attack ads from opponents Crist and Meek. But Rubio has only continued to climb in the polls.

If he wins Nov. 2, Rubio will put an exclamation point on a remarkable political rise and his youth could leave him on the scene for years. But he will have to largely give up his current work because of the full-time demands of office and to avoid conflicts of interest.

His new job would pay $174,000 a year.

Miami Herald reporter Beth Reinhard contributed to this report.

Rubio’s tax records

Income Taxes

2000 $82,710 $11,769

2001 89,879 13,883

2002 124,721 21,661

2003 122,718 17,414

2004 301,864 71,361

2005 330,106 76,739

2006 318,789 59,834

2007 308,285 54,423

2008 399,187 86,010

2009 317,531 60,611

Source: Rubio Senate campaign

PolitiFact Florida checks Crist’s attack on Rubio

Charlie Crist said in Tuesday’s debate that Marco Rubio changed his position on a bill after selling a home to a chiropractor who had been lobbying him. Read the ruling at PolitiFact.com/Florida.

Checking Crist’s 

attack on Rubio

Charlie Crist said in Tuesday’s debate that Marco Rubio changed his position on a bill after selling a home to a chiropractor who had been lobbying him. Read the ruling at PolitiFact.com/Florida.

Rubio’s tax records

2000 $82,710 $11,769
2001 89,879 13,883
2002 124,721 21,661
2003 122,718 17,414
2004 301,864 71,361
2005 330,106 76,739
2006 318,789 59,834
2007 308,285 54,423
2008 399,187 86,010
2009 317,531 60,611

Source: Rubio Senate campaign


Five reasons Marco Rubio may stumble

After a third solid debate performance and a skilful evisceration of Jeb Bush on Wednesday night, it’s Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s turn to step into the national spotlight. But can he withstand the glare?

Mr Rubio has had a lot going for him so far. He’s run a slow, but steady campaign that has been relatively error-free. Although his campaign fundraising efforts have lagged behind candidates like Texas Senator Ted Cruz and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, he’s been frugal with his spending and has more cash on hand many of his competitors. And he’s attracted the critical eye of the New York Times, which in a Republican nominating battle is better than any endorsement.

But while Mr Rubio is the talk of Washington right now – and the new favourite among those who wager on political fortunes – there are still a great many potential stumbling blocks and possible pitfalls that he must navigate if he wants the nomination. While he and his supporters are saying all the right things about not getting ahead of themselves and taking the race one step at a time, it’s a political truth that it’s a lot easier to climb the hill than stay on top.

And in case anyone had forgotten, there are still three months until Iowa kicks off the nomination process – a very long time to try to maintain momentum in a topsy-turvy race.

So how could Mr Rubio stumble on his way to the prize?

Former Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker speaks to reporters.

Until you’ve been in it, you haven’t been in it

Remember Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker? He shot to popularity back in January following a much-heralded speech at a Republican gathering in Iowa. He was viewed as the candidate who could unite the party establishment and the rebellious grass-roots. He was proven winner on the campaign trail and many people’s pick as the eventual nominee. And his presidential bid failed. Spectacularly.

Mr Walker wilted under the full force of media scrutiny, as the day-to-day grind of a national campaign took its toll. The Wisconsin governor learned the hard way that presidential politics is the big leagues, and it’s unforgiving of weakness or uncertainty.

Could a similar fate be in store for Mr Rubio? The sum total of his campaign experience is winning a US Senate seat as a significant underdog in 2010, five Florida elections to the Florida State House of Representatives (three of which were unopposed) and one race for local office in West Miami – a job he quit midway through his first term.

This seems to be the year of the political neophyte in Republican presidential politics, but when it comes to running a successful national campaign, experience usually matters. Mitt Romney won on his second try in 2012, as did John McCain in 2008. George W Bush had his family’s vaunted machine behind him in 2000, and in 1996 Bob Dole won the nomination on his third attempt.

Marco Rubio walks through the halls of Congress.

Skeletons in the closet

On Wednesday night Mr Rubio shrugged off a question about his past personal and campaign finances dealings by turning it into a shot at media bias and then a rumination on his humble upbringing.

While it worked in the context of a debate where every panel question was viewed with scepticism or outright hostility from the audience, Mr Rubio may not always be so fortunate. And some of the issues aren’t just about poor personal financial planning but tilt toward allegations of corruption

As the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza points out, there’s a litany of questionable actions in Mr Rubio’s past – such as failing to report a home equity loan from a political supporter, double-billing the state and the Republican Party for travel expenses and using political funds to pay for seemingly personal expenses like car repairs and groceries.

Mr Rubio also was a friend and real-estate partner with David Rivera, a Florida politician and former congressman, who has been fined more than $16,000 [£10,500] for government ethics violations and is still under federal investigation for relating criminal acts.

“Rubio is about to go through a period of much more intensive media scrutiny,” Mr Lizza writes. “Complaining about media bias won’t be enough to get him through it.”

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush looks on at the Colorado presidential debate.

Big guns taking aim

Media scrutiny over questionable dealings in Mr Rubio’s past may be the least of the Mr Rubio’s concerns, however. Perhaps the greatest threat to the Florida senator is the barrage of negative advertising that is likely headed his way.

Although Mr Bush’s campaign is scuffling, its supporting “independent” political action committees are still flush with cash and have identified Mr Rubio as a clear and present threat. Bushes seeking the presidency can hit hard – as opponents of George W Bush and George HW Bush will attest.

During a meeting with donors last weekend, Bush’s campaign team circulated portions of a memo that called Mr Rubio “a risky bet” and contained an outline of possible lines of attack on the senator – including some of the aforementioned financial issues.

In an interview with Bloomberg Politics, Mike Murphy – who heads a pro-Bush PAC that has raised more than $100m [£65m] – warned “if somebody takes a poke at Jeb, we’re capable of poking back.”

A Jeb Bush campaign memo calls Marco Rubio

He said if this is Mr Rubio’s “golden moment,” he’s going to be under sharp scrutiny for his flimsy record and “mystery donors”.

“The second and third look are going to be very tough on Marco Rubio,” he added.

Then there are the Democrats, and Hillary Clinton’s team in particular, who are closely monitoring Mr Rubio’s rise and, according to Politico’s Daniel Lippman, committing more resources to investigating his past.

“It’s a massive project,” he writes. “Info is scattered across his time in various governments, and researchers are cross-referencing the data.”

Democrats know that the best time to define opponents in a negative way is before they become better known by the general public. Barack Obama’s campaign successfully painted Mr Romney as an out-of-touch millionaire in 2012, for instance, and it’s a technique Mrs Clinton will likely follow in 2016.

Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and Ben Carson stand on the Republican debate stage in Boulder, Colorado.

The outsiders haven’t left

While many in media and politics may be tired of real-estate tycoon Donald Trump’s bombastic routine and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson’s restrained, often opaque delivery, they’re still the Republican front-runners until proven otherwise.

The first scientific poll of debate viewers found that while Mr Rubio performed well, a plurality thought Mr Trump was the winner. An Ipsos survey conducted in the days leading up to the debate show Mr Trump and Mr Carson in a virtual tie with 29% and 27% respectively, while Mr Rubio sits in fourth place with 6%, behind Mr Bush (9%) and just one point ahead of Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

In other words, Mr Rubio has a long way to go if he’s going to turn his good press clippings into tangible support. In addition, those backing anti-Washington outsiders like Mr Trump and Mr Carson seem unlikely to be lured away by a polished performance from a US senator perhaps best known for his early support of comprehensive immigration reform.

Mr Trump’s numbers have been solid for months, and Mr Carson’s still appears to be on an upward trajectory. While Mr Rubio may pique the interest of party donors and voters who are currently supporting other establishment candidates like Mr Bush or Ohio Governor John Kasich, that currently accounts for well under half the Republican electorate.

Marco Rubio sweats in the Iowa sun.

A campaign built to succeed?

Although Mr Rubio has more than $10m in cash on hand, his campaign does not appear to have made the kind of infrastructure-building efforts on the ground in early-voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire that usually translate into success on election day.

Mr Rubio himself has only spent 20 days in Iowa and 14 days in New Hampshire since 2013 – much fewer than many of his competitors. Most of his efforts have been focused on national fund-raising tours, according to the Washington Examiner’s Byron York, hence the concerns over his absenteeism in the US Senate that gave rise to Mr Bush’s ill-fated debate attack.

“Right now, Rubio has managed to be the candidate who is often absent from his day job while still not spending that much of his time with voters,” York writes.

In South Carolina, third in line in the nomination process, Mr Rubio has yet to open a campaign office, causing some Republican operatives there to wonder if he takes their state seriously.

Rubio campaign officials has replied to criticisms like these by saying they’re biding their time and shepherding their resources, aiming to peak when voting begins in February.

Sometimes, however, it’s good to capitalise on advantageous circumstances – and to do so in places like Iowa and New Hampshire requires having a robust campaign team in place.

Mr Rubio could be biding his time, but there’s the chance that his time is now.

Candidates in (and out of) the Republican presidential field

Candidates in the Republican presidential field


Marco Rubio opposes bankruptcy lifeline for struggling Puerto Rico



Marco Rubio opposes giving Puerto Rico the same type of bankruptcy protection available to U.S. towns and cities mired in fiscal crisis, the Florida senator will say Friday as he visits the American territory for the first time as a 2016 contender.

In an op-ed to be published in both Spanish and English, Rubio blames the “liberal ideology” of Puerto Rico’s politicians, creating a “toxic brew of economic stagnation, higher taxes and bloated government.”

“Allowing Puerto Rican municipalities to reorganize their debts under Chapter 9 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code would not solve Puerto Rico’s problems and should only be a measure of last resort considered if Puerto Rico takes significant steps to fix its budget and economic mess,” he writes.

The op-ed was timed to coincide with Rubio’s first visit to the island as a presidential candidate. And his position sets him apart from other 2016 contenders, including Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, who have supported Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection for the deeply indebted island.

Many candidates — Republican and Democrat — are courting Puerto Rico’s voters with an eye on securing support in Florida’s growing Puerto Rican population, and Rubio’s opposition to bankruptcy for the territory might not sit well with that important group.

But he appears to be aiming to build his bona fides as a fiscal conservative.

“So far, Hillary Clinton’s liberal hosts in San Juan today have failed to propose any serious measures to fix Puerto Rico’s economic challenges,” Rubio writes in the op-ed appearing in Puerto Rico’s largest daily newspaper, El Nuevo Dia.

Clinton is also visiting Puerto Rico on Friday, where she’ll hold an economic roundtable.

Until now, Rubio had declined to take a stand how to grapple with the territory’s fiscal crisis. Puerto Rico is carrying $73 billion in debt and, unlike U.S. municipalities, can’t declare bankruptcy. Rubio had previously declined to support a bill from Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Richard Blumenthal that would grant Puerto Rico’s municipalities and public utilities the same option to declare bankruptcy.

But Rubio said that as president he would try to assist Puerto Rico by making Earned Income Tax Credits apply in the territory and doubling the Child Tax Credit. He also reiterated his plan to repeal and replace Obamacare with a system that would treat Puerto Ricans “the same as other American consumers on the mainland.”

Rubio also signaled support for Puerto Rican statehood too — if a majority of Puerto Ricans vote to do so.

“Ultimately, Puerto Rico’s status must be resolved, and its unequal treatment by the federal government must end. As president, I will continue to speak clearly about the importance of enabling Puerto Ricans to resolve their status,” he writes.

“Puerto Rico should have a federally-sponsored vote on the island with two choices: become a state or not. If a majority of Puerto Ricans votes yes, Congress and the next president should respect their will and do what’s necessary to admit them as the 51st state,” Rubio says.


FALSE: Marco Rubio says humans are not causing climate change


Scientists have been issuing more new reports on the irreversible effects of climate change in recent weeks. Two groups reported on May 12, 2014, that the global sea level will rise at least 10 feet, accelerating to a dangerous pace after the next century.

Just a day before those reports were released, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., sat down with ABC’s Jonathan Karl on This Week. Talk turned to climate change, where the possible Republican presidential candidate denied a link between humans and the changing environment.

“I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it,” he said. “And I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it. Except it will destroy our economy.”

We’ve noted before that Rubio has disputed the basic science of climate change. So when Rubio said human activity isn’t causing changes to the environment, he’s got it all wrong.

In this case, Rubio framed his thoughts about climate change as his personal opinion. But the causes of global warming are backed up by thorough research, so we didn’t see room for debate in Rubio’s claim.

Rubio’s said before, “I’m not a scientist, man.” So PolitiFact reached out to scientists who could explain the facts behind climate change. We’ve rated similar claims False from Tim Pawlenty and Rick Perry, but we’ll rate it again because it’s a persistent claim we see year after year. Rubio’s staff didn’t return our request for comment.

How our climate is changing

Historically, the earth goes through periods of hotter and cooler temperatures. So how do we know global warming isn’t a natural part of this cycle?

By taking measurements, said Leonard Berry, director of Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Environmental Studies.

“We can measure the fact that the earth is warming. We can measure the fact that the ocean is warming,” Berry said. “While geological history shows warming and cooling periods, as far back as we go, none shows the kind of warming and the kind of changes we’re experiencing right now.”

Scientists trace back this shift to the Industrial Revolution, which began in 1760. Since that period, carbon dioxide rose 40 percent and methane by 150 percent. High levels of these and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere trap heat at the surface of the earth, warming the planet.

By burning fossil fuels, chopping down trees, and using fertilizer, humans have directly contributed to global warming.

The connection between increased levels of greenhouse gases and rising temperature has been confirmed by scientists for over a century, said Jennifer Francis, a Rutgers University marine and coastal sciences professor.

“There is as much uncertainty about this connection as there is about what will happen when you drop an object,” Francis said. “It will fall.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is also on board with human activity as a cause. They reported that were it not for human impact, the likely effect of natural changes to the environment would’ve been one of cooling, not warming. They cite “very high confidence” that human activities caused a change of course.

The U.S. Global Change Research program published a 2014 report on climate change. It doesn’t debate whether human activity causes climate change. Rather, it focuses on what actions to take to lessen its effects.

A May 2013 report analyzing all scientific papers that address the causes of climate change showed 97.1 percent of findings that took a position agree that there’s been a negative human impact on the atmosphere. Comedian John Oliver cleverly addressed the debate’s conclusiveness on a recent Last Week Tonight episode by arranging a representative debate between 97 climate change scientists and three deniers.

As a politician from Florida, Rubio must contend with research that pegs Miami and Tampa as two of the U.S. cities most likely to be impacted by climate change. Rising sea levels will make them more prone to flooding.

“Whatever the cause of climate change, the impacts on Florida are already important and that it would be difficult for responsible people in Florida to ignore that fact,” Berry said.

Our ruling

Rubio said human activity is not “causing these dramatic changes to our climate.” An overwhelming majority of scientists agree that humans, by burning fossil fuels, contribute directly to global warming.

Not only is Rubio incorrect, but he’s ignoring a mountain of concrete, scientific research. We rate his claim False.

CORRECTION: This story was updated on May 15 to clarify that 97.1 percent of the studies that took a position on global warming agreed that there’s been a negative human impact on the atmosphere; more than half the studies did not take a position. Also, the story clarifies that the 2013 report looked at studies, not individual scientists.