As Chris Matthews explains in the clip below, in Politics you are either attacking or explaining.
Rubio is now into week two of explaining.
This here's coming out an inch at a time...and there's at least a few more feet to go.
From the St. Petersburg Times:
On May 18, 1956, Mario and Oriales Rubio walked into the American Consulate in Havana and applied for immigrant visas. The form asked how long they intended to stay in the United States.
"Permanently," Mr. Rubio answered.
Nine days later, the couple boarded a National Airlines flight to Miami, where a relative awaited.
So began a journey that seems as ordinary as any immigrant story, but decades later served as the foundation of an extraordinary and moving narrative told repeatedly by their third child as he became one of the most powerful politicians in Florida and then a national figure.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has come under fire for incorrectly linking his parents to the Cubans who fled Fidel Castro beginning in 1959. He insists they are exiles nonetheless and angrily denounced the suggestion he misled for political gain.
"My upbringing taught me that America was special and different from the rest of the world, and also a real sense that you can lose your country," Rubio said in an interview this week.
But the visa documents cast clearer divisions between his parents, who came for economic reasons, and the Cubans who scrambled to leave their homeland but thought they could soon return. And the documents come to light amid new discrepancies since Rubio's time line came under scrutiny last week.
From Politico (and mind you, these are the stories from today):
In Miami’s Little Havana, the Cuban exile community has rallied to the defense of its favorite son, Sen. Marco Rubio, as he fights off allegations he embellished his family history to boost his meteoric political career.
But well beyond Calle Ocho, the freshman Florida Republican still faces a bigger challenge selling himself to the broader Hispanic electorate. Rubio is expected to encounter tough questions from voters and activists over his hard-line stance on immigration as he heads to Texas and possibly Arizona next week to court Hispanic voters and high-dollar donors. As his personal history morphs into a national political story, it’s clear Rubio still has plenty of skeptics in the Latino political community.
“He is a laughing stock in the Southwest … because people discovered he wasn’t telling the truth about his political Cuban exile history,” said DeeDee Garcia Blase, founder of Somos Republicans, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based GOP group that backs a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. “They are saying, at the end of the day, ‘He is just like us. His mom and dad came here; they migrated because of economic reasons, just like the rest of us.’”
The controversy about when — and under what circumstances — his family arrived in the U.S. has proved to be the first major test for the rising GOP star as he transitions from Sunshine State politics to the national stage, where the exile experience that he’s embraced doesn’t resonate among non-Cuban Hispanics as much as it does in the quaint cafes and bustling streets of Little Havana.
That cultural divide between his home crowd and the larger Latino electorate could pose a problem for Republicans who have billed Rubio, a favorite for the vice presidential spot in 2012, as their party’s great Hispanic hope.
And the Washington Post:
Republicans who are eager to repair the party’s battered image among Hispanic voters and unseat President Obama next year have long promoted a single-barrel solution to their two-pronged problem: putting Sen. Marco Rubio on the national ticket.
The charismatic Cuban American lawmaker from Florida, the theory goes, could prompt Hispanics to consider supporting the GOP ticket — even after a primary contest in which dust-ups over illegal immigration have left some conservative Hispanics uneasy.
But Rubio’s role in recent controversies, including a dispute with the country’s biggest Spanish-language television network and new revelations that he had mischaracterized his family’s immigrant story, shows that any GOP bet on his national appeal could be risky.
Democrats had already questioned whether a Cuban American who has voiced conservative views on immigration and opposed the historic Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina justice, could appeal to a national Hispanic electorate of which Cubans are just a tiny fraction but have special immigration status. And Rubio’s support in Florida among non-Cuban Hispanics has been far less pronounced than among his fellow Cubans.
That ethnic calculus was further complicated by records, reported by The Washington Post last week, showing that Rubio had incorrectly portrayed his parents as exiles who fled Cuba after the rise of Fidel Castro. In fact, their experience more closely resembles that of millions of non-Cuban immigrants: They entered the United States 2 1 / 2 years before Castro’s ascent for apparent economic reasons.
Rubio made the exile story a central theme of his political biography, telling one audience during his Senate campaign, “Nothing against immigrants, but my parents are exiles.” A video, apparently produced for the conservative site RedState.com, shows black-and-white footage of Castro as Rubio speaks.
Even after the new reports of his parents’ entry, Rubio has said he remains the “son of exiles,” saying his parents had hoped to return to the island but did not because of the rise of a Communist state.
But in elevating exile roots over the apparent reality of his parents’ more conventional exodus, Rubio risks setting up a tension point with the country’s Hispanic voters — most of whom are Mexican American and have immigrant friends or ancestors who did not have access to the virtually instant legal status now granted to Cubans who make it into the United States.
“If he does take that mantle, there’ll be a lot of clarification that he’ll have to make on a whole lot of issues,” said Lionel Sosa, a longtime GOP strategist.