Welcome back to Missouri, Senator Rubio.
By MARY SANCHEZ
The Kansas City Star
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, in Kansas City today, has a Midwest connection. Its an academically unimpressive one, but something he doesnt sugarcoat in his autobiography, An American Son.
Rubio attended college in Tarkio, a small northwest Missouri town.
How the Cuban-American wound up at Tarkio College could be titled: Yes, you, too, can graduate high school with a 2.1 grade point average, attend a financially doomed college, yet one day be considered as a vice presidential pick and command people to fork over $10,000 for a photo with you.
Rubio thankfully skips the pretty veneer people tend to ascribe to immigrants, refusing to discount the emotional and psychological tolls. Rather, he speaks of eventually accepting the responsibilities of his generation the one his parents and grandparents sacrificed for.
Rubios early background is filled with a wide range of experiences, many in contradiction to assumptions about his Cuban Florida roots.
Hes raising funds for Mitt Romney. Todays breakfast event at the InterContinental Hotel was $1,000 a head, with those raising or contributing $10,000 eligible for a picture with the boyish-looking 41-year-old.
In his book, Rubio is honest about the academic failings and athletic aspirations that first brought him to Missouri.
He wanted to play college football. As a youth, Don Shulas Dolphins meant everything to him. Rubio chose Tarkio because of the financial aid it offered and because coaches there would let him try out for wide receiver. Hed been a defensive back.
Tarkio gave Rubio more stars than he had ever seen in a night sky, his first chance at being a significant contributor on a football team, and a town filled with the nicest people I have ever met.
It is also where he came to grips with the fact that I did not have NFL talent.
He worried credits wouldnt transfer and that the schools financial problems would force termination of the football program. A fear that he had nerve damage in his neck forced his decision. Rubio left. Tarkio College closed soon after, by 1992.
Rubio returned to Florida, attended community college to get his grades up, earned an undergraduate degree and later a law degree.
Of Cuban exiles he writes: They would accept their loss, and devote themselves to giving their sacrifice a purpose. Their children and grandchildren would never suffer what they had suffered.
Rubio reignited a fascination with politics that had been nurtured in his boyhood by a beloved grandfather. The rest is a better-known story.
To reach Mary Sanchez, call 816-234-4752 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.