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Tags: Rubio | Candor | American | Son

Marco Rubio’s Candor Pays Off

Ronald Kessler By Tuesday, 19 June 2012 11:14 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Ronald Kessler reporting from Washington, D.C. — What people hate most about politicians is how phony many of them can be. Sen. Marco Rubio’s new book “An American Son: My Story” shows he is anything but.

In this engrossing autobiography, we learn that after Rubio’s parents fled Cuba for a better life in America, Rubio’s father worked as a janitor and bartender. His mother was a hotel housekeeper. Rubio’s father abruptly found himself without a job or a free apartment when a new owner took over the apartment complex where he worked.

During their on-again, off-again relationship before they were married, Rubio’s future wife Jeanette Dousdebes made it clear that their relationship would end if he did not stop going to South Beach nightclubs.

Editor’s Note: Get Marco Rubio’s New Book for ONLY $4.95! That’s $22 Off!

When she tried to reach him when he was at a club at midnight, Rubio finally realized he had been a “fool” for living that lifestyle and risking losing her. He called her back, told her where he was, hailed a cab, and returned home.

“It was the best decision I ever made,” he writes.

Rubio told Jeanette he was planning to take her on a trip to a cold-weather city. When they arrived at the boarding gate for the plane, she found out their destination was New York. On Valentine’s Day 1997, he proposed to her on the observation deck of the Empire State building. They were married the following year.

“I think she had suspected New York was our secret destination, but from the shocked look on her face, I knew I had managed to surprise her anyway,” he writes. Jeanette “hadn’t expected the proposal, but she accepted me without hesitating,” he says.

Rubio became a member of the Florida House, promoting an agenda of lower taxes, better schools, a leaner and more efficient government, and robust empowerment of the free market. But minimal salaries from the legislature and from his law firm were not enough to cover the couple’s expenses, which included his student loan payments. Strapped for funds, Rubio decided to sell their car and move in with Jeanette’s mother.

“My understanding wife, who had already sacrificed so much for my political career, now had to worry that I couldn’t provide for our family,” Rubio says. “I had never been so despondent. The only solution, I concluded, was to resign from the legislature and practice law full-time again.”

Eventually, a headhunter arranged for a new job at a higher salary. On his way to the new law firm, Rubio reached for his wallet and saw a yellow sticky note attached to it.

“Good Luck Tomorrow!” the note said. “Don’t be nervous; make sure you’re on time; break a leg and remember I love you!!!” The note was signed, “Love, Jeanette.”

Soon, Rubio was speaker of the Florida House, and he landed a job making $300,000 a year at another law firm.

Periodically, Rubio complained to Jeanette and friends that a conservative should run against Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who supported President Obama’s stimulus plan, in the Florida Republican primary for the U.S. Senate.

“Then why don’t you do it?” Jeanette asked him. As a matter of principle, Jeanette urged her husband to forget about the risks and run against Crist.

“With that simple question, she exposed me as part of the problem in the Republican Party,” Rubio writes. “At that time, I was just another Republican who worried about the future of my party but refused to risk anything to do something about it. I wanted somebody to take on Crist, but I didn’t want to do it myself.”

When he started his race for the U.S. Senate, Rubio could not win support from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). He turned to Sen. Jim DeMint, the South Carolina senator who heads the Senate Steering Committee. Impressed by Rubio and his life story, DeMint threw the coveted support of his Senate Conservatives Fund to him.

When Obama was elected president, Rubio teared up thinking about the historic implications. But Obama “badly overreached his mandate, and his miscalculation gave rise to a new political movement that would define the elections of 2010,” Rubio writes.

In the Senate, Rubio made friends with Sen. Patrick Leahy. The Vermont Democrat gave Rubio, who has four children, good advice. Leahy told him that over the years, he had missed his share of family events while he was in Washington casting a vote or working on legislation.

“Everyone has a job to do, he acknowledged, and this was his,” Rubio writes. “Almost all parents miss something in their children’s lives because they had work to do. Your kids will understand.”

But once when Leahy’s children were still young, “the president called him personally to invite him to an important occasion. When he checked his calendar, he found it conflicted with one of his children’s events, and he called the president back and respectfully declined his offer,” Rubio says.

Years later, Rubio says, Leahy “couldn’t remember the event the president had invited him to, but his children had never forgotten that he had turned down the president of the United States to be with them.”

Rarely do we see such candor and detail in any autobiography, let alone one written by a politician. At the same time, Rubio presents an uplifting and inspiring story about an immigrant’s son who has lived the American dream.

“For years, my dad would work banquets at hotels,” Rubio writes. “At these events there are usually only two people standing — the speaker on the podium and the bartender behind the bar. My dad was the one behind the bar. But he worked all his life so that kids could make the symbolic journey from the bar to the podium. That journey is a testament to the greatness of America.”

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. He is the New York Times best-selling author of books on the Secret Service, FBI, and CIA. Read more reports from Ronald Kessler — Click Here Now.

Editor’s Note: Get Marco Rubio’s New Book for ONLY $4.95! That’s $22 Off!

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Tuesday, 19 June 2012 11:14 AM
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