Marco Rubio swept onto the national scene during the Tea Party wave and has since become a rising star in the Republican Party and a serious contender for the presidency.
Many know that Rubio rose through the ranks of the Florida House of Representatives in the early 2000s, but they may not know about his family life, background, or his taste in music.
Gathered below are 12 surprising things you might not know about the senator from Florida.
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1. He embodies the American dream
— While candidates like Donald Trump and Jeb Bush were born into wealthy families, Marco Rubio was born in Miami to poor Cuban parents who fled the deadly rise of Fidel Castro in 1956. His father, Mario, was a hotel bartender, and his mother, Oriales, was a maid, cashier, and retail clerk. Through hard work, Rubio has risen to the top of American politics at a relatively young age, and his story resonates with a great many voters.
2. His wife is a former NFL cheerleader
— "Jeanette Dousdebes Rubio, now 41, was a Miami Dolphins cheerleader and posed for the team's first swimsuit calendar in 1997, the year before she married the exceptionally ambitious politician, Marco Rubio, now 44," The Hill reported
. "Knowing she loved the movie "Sleepless in Seattle," on Valentine's Day 1997, he took her to New York to the observation deck of the Empire State Building, the 1993 movie's most tear-jerking scene, and gave her the ring." These days, she is a full-time mom to the couple's four children, and she also leads a women's Bible study group at her house.
3. He has four children
— Marco and Jeanette Rubio have four kids: Daniella, Amanda, Dominick, and Anthony. According to Heavy.com
, Rubio is "the coach of a youth football team that his two sons Dominick and Anthony play in on the weekends."
4. He was a college football player
— A star player of South Miami High School, Rubio attended Tarkio College in Missouri on a football scholarship and dreamed of playing in the NFL. "Had it not been for my lack of size, speed, and talent," he often jokes, he would have made it, The Hill reported.
5. He lived in Nevada and attended a Mormon church as a kid
— "The Rubio family, which was Catholic, moved from Florida to Nevada in the late 1970s and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," NPR reported
. "The Florida senator was baptized into the Mormon faith when he was approximately 8 years old, and family members recalled that he was deeply invested in the religion having met with missionaries and attended LDS youth events . . . But once the Rubios left Nevada and returned to Miami, they rejoined the Catholic Church, apparently at the senator's urging."
6. He called Barack Obama a socialist before it was cool
— According to Mother Jones
, "Back in early September of 2008 — before the presidential election, and before the economy fell off a cliff — Rubio said 'Marx would be pleased' by Obama's fiscal proposals. 'I love what Barack Obama's candidacy says about America. I just fear what his candidacy would do to America,' he said. 'To leave our children with a centrally planned socialist economy is not a better plan.'"
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7. He and Huckabee have endorsed each other in the past
— Rubio endorsed Huckabee in 2008, and Huckabee returned the favor by endorsing him for his successful U.S. Senate bid in 2010.
8. He's not into disco music
— Politico reported
that Rubio "hates disco music. He recently called the ’70s a 'very frightening time' when 'we had to overcome disco, and bell bottoms, and the Bee Gees.' His current favorite? Nicki Minaj."
9. His first concert was Prince
— When Marco and Jeanette were still dating, they attended a show by none other than The Purple One.
10. He has taught at a university
— Rubio "teaches political science at Florida International University in Miami, where he’s been a professor since leaving the state legislature in 2008," according to Politico.
11. He was speaker of the Florida House
— According to his senate biography
, "From 2000-2008, Rubio served in the Florida House of Representatives. During this period, he served as Majority Whip, Majority Leader, and Speaker of the House, effectively promoting an agenda of lower taxes, better schools, a leaner and more efficient government, and free market empowerment."
12. He worked on Bob Dole's campaign as a young man
— "Rubio got one of his first major roles in politics as 1996 Republican presidential contender Bob Dole's campaign chairman for Miami-Dade and Monroe counties in Florida," NPR reported
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