Jeanette Dousdebes Rubio went to the same high school as her husband, 2016 presidential election candidate Marco Rubio, South Miami High School, in Florida. But they didn’t meet until a neighborhood party when Marco was 19 and Jeanette was 17, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“I was at the (West Miami Recreation Center) one day playing volleyball and he spotted me,” Jeanette Rubio told the Tampa Bay Times in 2012 “So he asked questions and friends put something together where we would go to the movies and he would sit next to me and then — you know, coincidentally. Throughout the whole movie he would start talking to me, which I thought was a little annoying.”
Now, 23 years later, Jeanette Rubio, 40, has been thrust into the spotlight as the wife of a presidential candidate.
Here’s what you need to know about Mrs. Rubio:
1. She Was a Cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins & Was in Their First Swimsuit Calendar
Jeanette Rubio was a cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins in the mid 1990s while she was also a part-time bank teller and a student. Rubio, a high school football player who spent one year playing college football at Tarkio College in Missouri, has said he is a huge Dolphins fan and watches every game.
“I always wanted to be an NFL player,” Marco Rubio told the Tampa Bay Times. “And now I’m going to have to tell my kids that the only one of her two parents that ever touched an NFL field was her mom.”
Jeanette was featured in the cheerleading squad’s first swimsuit calendar before she left the team in 1996. Her sister, Adriana Dousdebes, was also a Dolphins cheerleader.
“She was just a wonderful person. She has kind of a calm personality, very easygoing,” said Dorie Grogan, senior director of entertainment, for the Dolphins, told the Tampa Bay Times. “He seemed like a supportive, really nice boyfriend.”
2. She Married Marco in 1998 & They Have 4 Children Together
After meeting as teenagers, there relationship was disrupted as Marco went off to college at the University of Florida, leading to a long distance relationship.
“It was harder and harder for me even to stay up there on the weekends, just because I wanted to be back here. So I would write these really long letters,” Marco Rubio told the Tampa Bay Times in a 2012 interview about his family life.
Jeannete Rubio said, “One of the letters that he wrote to me, I still have it. It was about how we were building a foundation and we were going through the steps. And he wrote all the steps in comparison to where we were in our relationship.”
She studied at Miami-Dade Community College and worked as a part-time bank teller while Marco was in law school at the University of Miami. After several years as friends and dating, the couple married in 1998. Jeanette was soon pregnant with the couple’s first child, Amanda.
Amanda is now 14, and the Rubios have three other children, Anthony, Daniella and Dominic.
3. Her Focus Has Been on Her Kids, Not Marco’s Political Campaigns
Jeanette Rubio has mainly shied away from the main stage during Marco’s political career. She isn’t known for giving speeches or for being in the forefront in campaign ads. But she told the Tampa Bay Times in 2012 that she actually does like campaigning, saying, “You meet a lot of different people and you hear their stories.”
A stay-at-home mom, as well as the leader of a weekly Bible study group, she said she feels like being with her children is most important.
“I’m not pushing myself out there. I need to be with (the) kids just to give them that balance,” Jeanette Rubio told the newspaper. “If he’s out there, I feel like I have to be here for them, to give them that reality.”
She said, “in the future, if I have to do it, of course I’ll do it. But in general, I am shy.”
“I’ve also just never been in a position where she’s had to give stump speeches or do things of that nature. It just hasn’t been what we do,” Marco told the Tampa Bay Times.
She has mainly been out of the spotlight during her husband’s time in the Senate. She did make headlines in January 2015 when she accidentally sideswiped a Rubio campaign donor’s Porsche during a Miami Beach fundraiser. According to the Miami Herald, it was a minor fender bender. She was driving her husband’s Ford F-150 pickup truck and tried to squeeze past the Porsche in the hotel’s pick-up and drop-off area.
Jeanette told the Tampa Bay Times that the hardest part of her husband being in a campaign is the negativity that comes with it, saying that puts “a lot of strain” on the family.
I love being a mom. And my faith is very important. [She attends a Christian church.] And I’m very involved—you know, with the time I have in between the kids and my job—in the issue of human trafficking. There’s a local organization called Kristi’s House that they started for kids who were abused and then got involved in human trafficking.
She talked to a local news station at the opening of Kristi’s House. Watch the video below:
4. She Is of Colombian Descent & That Could Help Her Husband’s Campaign
Like her husband, Jeanette is the daughter of immigrants. While’s Marco’s family came to America from Cuba, Jeanette’s parents are from Colombia.
“It’s very important for us,” Fabio Andrade, 58, a Republican businessman and community activist who emigrated from Colombia in 1967 told the Washington Examiner. “Colombians will mobilize based on that.”
5. She Works Part-Time for a Charitable Foundation Run by 1 of Marco’s Top Donors
Jeanette Rubio works part-time for the Braman Family Foundation, helping to manage millions of dollars in donations to nonprofits and charities, according to the Washington Post.
The organization’s founder, Norman Braman, is a billionaire auto dealer and former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles. He is expected to donate at least $10 million to Rubio’s campaign and super PAC, according to the Post. Braman first met Marco Rubio when he was a state representative in Florida and later backed his Senate race, the Post reports. They traveled together to Israel in late 2010 and the two families have developed a close bond.