“An American Son: A Memoir,” by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio is released today.
The book details Rubio’s political career, including his rise through the Legislature and his eventual run for the Senate. It comes amid speculation that Rubio could be on de facto GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s short list as Romney tries to choose a running mate.
The Associated Press received an advance copy of the book and reveals Rubio was close to dropping out of the 2010 Senate race.
“If I ran for attorney general it would be because my fears had gotten the better of me. … I made up all sorts of rationalizations to disguise my cowardice. … I had just about made up my mind. I had even written a speech announcing my decision and apologizing for disappointing my supporters. ‘Our ideas are strong,’ I intended to say, ‘but our fund-raising hasn’t been.’ Nevertheless I decided to keep my Senate campaign schedule until I announced my decision, figuring the events … were events I would have to do anyway as an AG candidate.
“I flew to Tallahassee and met two former aides … who drove me … to meet with the editorial board of the Pensacola News Journal … Brendan Farrington, the AP political reporter, came along … [During the three-hour drive,] Brendan got a phone call. I could tell it was about me. After he hung up, he apologized for what he was about to ask me. He had just gotten off the phone with a very reliable source in Tallahassee who had told him in no uncertain terms that I was going to switch races. If I admitted I was thinking about it, my Senate race would be over right then. … I was trapped, and I was angry. … In my past run-ins with Crist, I had managed to swallow my pride … Not this time. I’d had enough of their disrespect. I told Brendan I wasn’t going to drop out of the Senate race.”
Other interesting anecdotes (via Alex Leary):
Rubio tells a story about campaigning for Bob Dole in New Hampshire in 1996 and afterward getting into a vodka shot contest with friends. Then a law student, Rubio got sick on the plane home, choosing to vomit on a fellow volunteer rather than on influential U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami. “I was convinced my brief career in Republican politics had just come to an abrupt and humiliating end thanks to my own immaturity.”
Rubio’s disdain for Crist, whom he views as a man without convictions, comes through vividly — and humorously. Rubio describes showing up to a TV studio for a debate and Crist was already in position. “I was immediately struck by the smell of Red Bull … he reeked of it,” Rubio wrote. “Plus he had a mug in front of him filled with coffee. I’m in for quite a ride, I thought to myself.”
Here is a compilation of analysis and reaction to Rubio’s autobiography.
Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald:
“(The) contradictory sense — of otherness but connectedness —is central to the immigrant experience in America. And it’s a key to understanding Rubio…”
Comedy Central’s River Clegg blogs about Rubio continues to confuse liberals:
“Marco, you’re making America short-circuit. Look, why not just say whether you think flag-burning should be legal, or whether you like Wal-Mart? We can draw all the conclusions we need from that.”
The Associated Press’s Gary Fineout believes the book will no doubt burnish Rubio’s reputation as one of the country’s leading conservative leaders, but…
“The book…will leave out some of the details of a key incident in Rubio’s career in the Florida Legislature when he acted less like a limited-government conservative and more like those who believe strong government action is sometimes necessary for the public good.” (Fineout is referring to the 2007 special session which addressed property-insurance rates. Rubio went along with CGov. Charlie Crist’s plan. which included rate rollbacks, more rate regulation and a larger role for the state in backing up insurers after major hurricanes.”
Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times, a long-time Rubio watcher, writes “the book presents a paradox. Rubio’s rise has been fueled by a rich family narrative, the son of hard-working Cuban immigrants, but a relentless political drive leaves him questioning if he entered politics too early and missed too much time with his wife and four children.”
Jonathan Martin — “A Political Star’s Careful Climb” for the Wall Street Journal
“Rubio’s own account and especially Mr. Roig-Franzia’s effort show us an ambitious young man with an LBJ-like appreciation for the importance of cultivating political patrons. The pattern was on display when Mr. Rubio took his first law job working at the firm of a Miami-area Republican politico who would go on to become state GOP chairman (Al Cardenas); when Mr. Rubio ran for and won a seat on the West Miami city commission, thanks to the support of the popular mayor (Rebeca Sosa), who dubbed him ‘Marcito’; and when he got to Tallahassee as a state representative and ingratiated himself with two of the state capital’s most powerful Republicans (House Speaker Johnnie Byrd and Gov. Jeb Bush). …
“If the two books offer an important corrective to the perception of Rubio-as-political-outsider, what they don’t do is drop any political bombshells or even offer much in the way of news about a man regularly included on lists of Mitt Romney’s potential running mates. The preferred euphemism among GOP insiders when it comes to Mr. Rubio’s vice-presidential prospects is that his stock lately has been diminished by unspecified ‘baggage.’ But neither volume reveals any such freight.”
The Tampa Bay Times’ Adam Smith offers a preview of “The Rise of Marco Rubio” by Washington Post writer Manuel Roig-Franzia:
The book “may leave some readers questioning Rubio’s political core on issues ranging from immigration to government spending, but it’s unlikely to dent Rubio’s star power. Nor will it enhance the arguments of those who say Rubio has been inadequately vetted to be seriously considered as Mitt Romney’s running mate.”
The Daily Beast reviews ‘Rise’ here. An excerpt:
“The most interesting aspect of this biography is Rubio’s means of ascent. He is described by Roig-Franzia as “a professional apprentice,” someone unusually adept at ingratiating himself to elders in positions of power. He volunteers for unglamorous tasks like the state’s redistricting commission and does hard work with intense focus, acutely aware of being seen and becoming trusted by more senior members of the party, greasing the wheels with a well-timed laugh and his affable nature. He is more than willing to make any adjustments to expedite his rise: for example, in his first years in the Florida state House, Rubio doled out hundreds of thousands of dollars in earmarks, but when the Club for Growth comes calling, he quit cold turkey.”
Rubio “is planning a swing-state summer bus tour that will also roll through South Carolina, the early presidential primary battleground,” the Miami Herald reports.
“It’s officially aimed at selling books, not winning votes, but the freshman senator and possible vice presidential pick is set to make multiple stops not just in his home state of Florida but also in North Carolina and Virginia, critical presidential battlegrounds this fall. On the way, he’ll make several appearances in South Carolina, where Republicans hold their first-in-the-South presidential primary.”