If we could account for the number of fingernails we've bitten while observing U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, roll out his steamless, rickety train of a presidential campaign, we would likely be selling sad fingernail necklaces by the seashore to tourists. It seems like only yesterday we were watching Rubio throw princess parties in the gallery of the Florida Legislature for his kids, and maybe the day after that we were talking to him as he shilled his first book at a big-box retailer. He drank that water that one time. He liked to eat on the party's credit card. He refused to take any questions. We have had a great time!
But now things are getting real. How real? Well, in doing our research, we were reminded of our favorite thing about Marco (Polo!), something he revealed back in 2012 in his vanity bio. No, it wasn't the blatant lie that his parents came to America as exiled Cubans, but something far more hilarious and awesome.
10 percent Estimated polling number for presidential hopeful and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida
"We were in the Mormon church I guess by the time I turned 8," he told ABC News back in 2012. These were the Rubio salad days, the clinking gold rollerskating heights of '80s Las Vegas, and Rubio was, oh dear, not on LSD but on LDS.
"We did our first communion in Las Vegas before moving back to Miami," Rubio told ABC at the time, clutching his rosary. "I know people find it interesting, it was a period in our lives and our family in Las Vegas, we have a large extended family of cousins, second cousins and others who are still part of the LDS church."
$45,000 Monthly amount that the anti-gay regime of the Gambia offered to pay Rubio fundraiser Jennifer Lukawski’s BGR Group (founded by former Republican National Committee chairman and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour) for lobbying expenses and advocacy prior to a 2013 protest.
Not to go ad hominem on all of this religious speak – Rubio is most definitely a conservative Catholic these days who prefers long-sleeved shirts – but the best part of this, the part we forgot, is that Rubio was in a band called the Sunshine Cousins (trust, we've looked for clips but have not found them). The Sunshine Cousins were modeled after the Osmonds. "It was me, my sister and my cousin and we, we would lip sync basically," Rubio told ABC in 2012. Where are the photos? HOW IS THIS NOT THE BIGGEST NEWS?
Probably because last week, Rubio found himself in another bottle of hot water when it was revealed that one of his bundlers (meaning, people who pick up the campaign cash and muddle it together in a manner that seems legal), Jennifer Lukawski (who just hosted a Rubio fundraiser, natch), lists among her accomplishments in 2013 some lobbying for the Gambia, an African nation that supported the beheading of gay people. Website Think Progress reports that BGR Group, Lukawski's employer, received $45,000 a year for its education "advocacy" on behalf of the organization.
"For Sen. Rubio to be taken seriously, he has to show he can defend the rights of all Americans," Democratic Union of Gambian Activists spokesman Pasamba Jow told Think Progress. "To do that, he'd be sending the wrong signal by having on his team someone who hobnobs with a dictator who threatens to behead people just because they happen to be gay or whatever. If you're president of the United States, you're seen as the chief democrat in the world, person with the moral authority to talk about democracy. You cannot have people who hobnob with vicious tyrants."
It was a bad week for Rubio all around. His trip to Las Vegas, where he celebrated his 44th birthday party at the home of Pawn Stars behemoth and political genius Rick Harrison (was Chumlee there?), gave Dems a chance to insist that his campaign is "pawning off old, failed GOP ideas as new."
$4,100 Amount Rubio billed the Republican Party of Florida during the 2007 and 2008 legislative sessions for restaurant bills at places like Chick-fil-A and Macaroni Grill during the RPOF credit card scandal
His Vegas homecoming was also a reminder that, when it comes to some things, he's actually at odds with his own party. Rubio's parents were poor casino workers in Vegas, a matter that made Rubio an odd union supporter back in the day. "I was excited to be part of the cause and join forces with striking workers," Rubio wrote with his other hand while breathing out of the other side of his mouth in his first memoir. "I became a committed union activist." Then, when his dad crossed the strike lines, the Palm Beach Post reports, Rubio verbally assailed him with this nugget: "I accused him of selling out and called him a scab. ... It hurt him, and I am ashamed of it."
Which just adds to the mystery of the Marco Rubio that nobody can seem to pin down. Last week, after the New York Times posited that Rubio could be Hillary Clinton and the Democrats' "nightmare," Daily Beast columnist Michael Tomasky coughed up his coffee: "Rubio has some strengths the others don't," Tomasky wrote. "But if all this adds up to a nightmare, I'd think Clinton is sleeping pretty well at night."