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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactChecking Marco Rubio

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has joined what promises to be a crowded field of Republican candidates for president. Rubio informed his top donors of his decision on April 13, with a formal announcement planned for that evening in Miami.

We present here a sampling of some past claims from Rubio that we have reviewed on our site:

  • In a Feb. 27 speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Rubio made a pitch for reforming legal immigration, claiming “all” of the legal immigration in the U.S. was “based on whether or not you have a family member here.” That’s overstated. About two-thirds of the inflow of legal permanent residents in 2013 was based on family-sponsored immigration.
  • In that same speech, Rubio inaccurately described the controversial Common Core State Standards, calling it “a national school board that imposes a national curriculum on the whole country.” In fact, state leaders developed the Common Core standards, and local school officials set the curriculum.
  • In December, while criticizing Obama’s decision to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, Rubio gave an incomplete description of the role American Alan Gross played in Cuba. Rubio said Gross, who was freed by Cuba as part of the diplomatic agreement, “was taken hostage because he was helping the Jewish community in Cuba have access to the Internet.” Gross was actually doing work as a subcontractor for a pro-democracy program funded by the U.S. government, work for which Gross was being paid about a half million dollars. Reporting by the Associated Press revealed that Gross was covertly bringing in technology known to be illegal in Cuba — equipment such as satellite phones and a chip that allows Internet use without detection.
  • In 2013, while making a pitch for a system that more closely tracks entry and exit of those in the U.S. on student visas, Rubio claimed that “some of the 9/11 attackers were on student visas,” adding, “By the way, they had overstayed those student visas.” The fact is, only one of the 19 hijackers came to the U.S. on a student visa, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, and that man did not overstay his student visa.
  • In 2011, Rubio offered a contradictory view of what constitutes a “cut” from Medicare. Rubio claimed that Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan “doesn’t cut Medicare” but that the federal health care law does. In fact, Ryan’s plan left in place many of the Medicare “cuts” in the health care law.

Our file on Rubio dates to late 2009 when he opposed then-Gov. Charlie Crist in the Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat.  You can read our full file on Rubio here.

Stay tuned, as this current Republican field promises to grow much larger. As always, we will continue to monitor statements made by Rubio and all potential 2016 presidential candidates.

— Robert Farley