Marco Rubio's core political narrative begins with his grandfather, a man he called Papá, who was born in rural Cuba and contracted polio as a child. He spent most of his adult life as a laborer, struggling to provide for his seven daughters. In his older years, he’d hold court over his young grandson from an aluminum lawn chair, smoking a cigar, and telling stories about history and politics and baseball and what could have been.
Papá had pictured himself as the leader of a government or company, Rubio writes in the opening passage of his book, American Dreams, but he wasn’t politically connected or wealthy. As his grandfather lay dying, Rubio held his hand and made a promise: “I was going to study. I was going to make something of myself. I would not waste the opportunity I had to achieve my dreams.”