Republican Marco Rubio has more on his mind than the GOP debates and the possibility of becoming president. The Florida senator has had his wife, Jeanette Dousdebes, and four children by his side throughout his campaign.
Here’s what you need to know about the Rubio Family:
1. Rubio Coaches His Son’s Football Team
Rubio himself always wanted to play in the NFL, but after a short college football career he realized that wasn’t going to happen. Now, he’s the coach of a youth football team that his two sons Dominick and Anthony play in on the weekends.
Rubio said in an interview that he wanted to get into coaching to teach children the proper tackle techinique. When asked about the dangerous nature of football Rubio said that any sport can be dangerous, including competitve stunt cheerleading, which his daughter Amanda does.
His sons also play basketball and his daughter Daniella rides in horse shows, according to Parade.
2. He’s Been Married to His Wife for 17 Years & They Are Childhood Sweethearts
He proposed to her at the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day in 1997, but the two have known each other since childhood. Even though they both went to South Miami Senior High School, it wasn’t until Rubio saw his future wife at a local recreation center a few years after he graduated and wanted to get to know her more, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
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.
They began dating but it quickly turned into a long-distance relationship, in which they communicated through letters, because Rubio began attending University of Florida in the fall and Jeanette would attend Miami-Dade Community College and work part-time as a bank teller. The couple recalls one of the letters that Rubio wrote for his wife which she still has.
I think the purpose of the letter — I was trying to explain to her how I thought that even though it was tough being apart from each other, we were investing in the early stages of our relationship, which would be the foundation for whatever came of it down the road.
She admits to being shy and not wanting to be in the media spotlight for the sake of her children.
“I’m not pushing myself out there. I need to be with (the) kids just to give them that balance. If he’s out there, I feel like I have to be here for them, to give them that reality.
But at the same time she has had Rubio’s back and encourages him when he begins to doubt himself. “I really believe that when things are hardest — those things make you stronger,” she told the Tampa Bay Times.
3. His Father Was a Bartender & His Mother Was a Maid
Rubio’s parents, Mario and Oriales Rubio, were born in Cuba but moved to the U.S. following Fidel Castro’s takeover. When Rubio was eight years old his family moved to Las Vegas, Nevada where his father worked as a bartender at the Sams Town Hotel and his mother as a housekeeper at the Imperial Palace Hotel. Later on his father also worked as a crossing guard and his mother as a Kmart stock clerk, according to his website.
Rubio talked about his background and how fortunate he is in a speech:
In many countries, the highest office in the land is reserved for the rich and powerful,” he said. “But I live in an exceptional country where even the son of a bartender and a maid can have the same dreams and the same future as those who come from power and privilege.
Rubio recalls his parents always wanting what was best for their four children including Rubio, his two sisters and brother. “They wanted their kids to have a professional career, the kind they couldn’t have,” he told Parade. Rubio also explains his parents never finished high school so it was always hard for them to help him with homework. He finds he is sensitive when he sees it in other immigrant communities.
Rubio posted this image on his Instagram on Father’s Day in honor of his dad with the caption,
Remembering my father today – he worked hard to provide so many opportunities for me and taught me what the American Dream is all about. #FathersDay
4. His Wife Was a Miami Dolphins Cheerleader
In 1997 she joined the Miami Dolphins cheerleading squad while Rubio got to go to the games for free.
“I always wanted to be an NFL player 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,” he told the Tampa Bay Times.
But her career was short lived because after Rubio asked her to marry him she quit cheerleading to attend the International Fine Arts College. After they got married she only had one semester left but then she got pregnant. Now she has been working at the Braman Family Foundation.
5. Marco & Jeanette Above All Want to Teach Their Children Respect
“The most important thing for me is that they learn respect. They have to make their beds. They have to read during the summer. I can’t stand them being on those video games—they only get to play one hour on the weekend,” Jeanette tells Parade.
They are also trying to teach their children Spanish since both of them know how to speak it coming from Cuban and Colombia backgrounds. Rubio also says his most important job is being a father, not a senator, according to Parade.
I do believe that the essence of the American dream is a vibrant middle class and upward mobility, the ability not just to do better yourself but to give your kids the chance to do everything you could not do. That dream is very prevalent in the Hispanic community. To the extent that people view the Republican party as a defender of this dream, I think that’ll be very positive—not just among Hispanics but among all Americans.