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An embellishment and potential blemish

Freshman GOP Sen. Marco Rubio -- a rising star in the Republican Party -- has often invoked the story about his parents fleeing the Castro regime in Cuba.

But an investigative piece in the Washington Post notes that Rubio's parents came to the United States (and gained residency here) more than 2 1/2 years before Castro came to power in Cuba.

[A] review of documents - including naturalization papers and other official records - reveals that Rubio's dramatic account of his family saga embellishes the facts. The documents show that Rubio's parents came to the United States and were admitted for permanent residence more than 2½ years before Castro's forces overthrew the Cuban government and took power on New Year's Day 1959.

The Post adds:

Rubio’s office on Thursday confirmed that his parents arrived in the United States in 1956 but noted that “while they were prepared to live here permanently, they always held out the hope and the option of returning to Cuba if things improved.” They returned to Cuba several times after Castro came to power to “assess the situation with the hope of eventually moving back,” the office said in a statement.

Here are two TV ads (here and here) that Rubio aired during his 2010 Senate run highlighting that he was the son of exiles.

*** UPDATE *** Rubio has released this statement:

“To suggest my family’s story is embellished for political gain is outrageous. The dates I have given regarding my family’s history have always been based on my parents’ recollections of events that occurred over 55 years ago and which were relayed to me by them more than two decades after they happened. I was not made aware of the exact dates until very recently.

“What’s important is that the essential facts of my family’s story are completely accurate. My parents are from Cuba. After arriving in the United States, they had always hoped to one day return to Cuba if things improved and traveled there several times. In 1961, my mother and older siblings did in fact return to Cuba while my father stayed behind wrapping up the family’s matters in the U.S. After just a few weeks living there, she fully realized the true nature of the direction Castro was taking Cuba and returned to the United States one month later, never to return.

“They were exiled from the home country they tried to return to because they did not want to live under communism. That is an undisputed fact and to suggest otherwise is outrageous.”