New memoir reveals a contemplative Marco Rubio

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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“I went clubbing, and I liked it.” So says Marco Rubio in his just-released memoir, “An American Son.”

That jovial sentence (regarding a time before he was married) was a rarity in a book generally filled with introspection and sincere statements of regret — quite unusual for a young rising star in the political establishment. But that’s nothing new for Rubio, who laments that during his senate victory speech: “I regretted not saying a few words in Spanish for people watching on the Spanish-language networks.”

(I had a chance to talk with Rubio recently about the book. Listen to our conversation here. Or download the podcast on iTunes.)

Like many memoirs, An American Son is filled with stories of Rubio’s family and upbringing. But unlike most, it features the unique struggles his family faced as Cuban exiles.

Reflecting on the hard lives of his maternal grandfather and father, Rubio writes:

I was nothing like my grandfather, a disabled man who had lost his job and his status and yet took any work he could find to feed his family. Walking for miles every day, falling down, getting up, walking some more; rejected, humiliated, ignored. he had never quit. He had never given in to self-pity.

I was nothing like my father, motherless and working since he was nine. He had gone to bed hungry many nights. He had lived in the streets and slept on a wooden crate in a storeroom. He had tried and failed and tried and failed again to start a business. He had lost his country. His work as a bartender had him coming home late at night well into his seventies I had never heard a single complaint escape his lips.

The trials I was facing were nothing compared to theirs.

Much of the book focused on Rubio’s dramatically successful — yet, in some ways, conventional — political rise. Of course, his most remarkable triumph came in defeating then-Gov. Charlie Crist for a U.S. Senate seat. Interestingly, Rubio reveals he could have potentially been talked out of the run.

“Had the Republican Party chairman or Crist himself reached out to me personally in the spring of 2009,” Rubio writes, “they could probably have persuaded me not to run. I’m not proud of it now, but I think if they had acknowledged my concern that the party had strayed too far from our conservative principles, I would have walked away from the Senate race. I was looking for a face-saving way out. Instead, out of pride and hubris, they chose to intimidate me. And I, too, reacted out of pride.”

(Listen to our recent conversation here. Or download the podcast on iTunes.)

Matt K. Lewis