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Marco Rubio may have embellished family history

Marco Rubio: did the potential Republican VP candidate lie about his family's Cuban history in order to appeal to his Floridian constituency?

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Democrats are trying to make an issue of it, saying it calls into question Rubio's character. The Florida Democratic Party accused Rubio of "self-serving deception," and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said Rubio has a credibility problem.

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"The latest bombshell confirms that Rubio seriously struggles to tell the truth and can't be trusted," said DSCC spokesman Matt Canter.

But Sean Spicer, a spokesman for the GOP National Committee, said the attacks will only strengthen Rubio by causing Republicans to come to his defense. The conservative was elected in 2010 after an upset over the GOP establishment's choice, Gov. Charlie Crist.

"There's no question he has an amazing life story. His family came here to pursue a better life, and that is all accurate. There's folks out there who have seen a great success story and are plotting to figure out how to take him down," Spicer said.

The head of the Miami-based Cuban American National Foundation, Pepe Hernandez, himself an exile and longtime opponent of Castro, saidRubio's parents' initial departure date was unimportant.

"There were a number of people who came here during the Batista regime because they were against Batista somehow," he said. "Then they returned to Cuba when Castro came in because they thought now things were going to change, and then after some time they realized this was not going to happen."

"Maybe their case is not exactly the same. They really came here as immigrants, but the second time the reason was that they couldn't live in Cuba under those circumstances. I don't see any difference between his parents and myself and everyone else who came here."

Former Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., who left Cuba as a teenager after the revolution, said the Post story showed "a gross lack of understanding about the Cuban exile experience. The fact is that they would not have left Cuba permanently if not for extreme fear of persecution and in search of freedom, like so many of us did."

Fernand Amandi, a pollster whose company specializes in Hispanic public opinion and works more often with Democrats than Republicans, said the episode alone might not be that damaging, but it could invite further scrutiny of Rubio's record.

"It's a chink in his armor of what was somebody who up to this point had almost uniformly positive and favorable coverage," he said.

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