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Marco Rubio, Horatio Alger, and the Republican-Donor Version of Class Warfare

Jeb Bush may be inevitable, but what self-made billionaire wants to bet on an entitled sure thing?
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks during a National Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon May 13, 2014 in Washington, DC.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks during a National Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon May 13, 2014 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

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.”