Will Marco Rubio’s Mormon Past Sink His Future?

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By Francis Wilkinson

Mike Allen of Politico reported today that the publication date of "An American Son," the autobiography of Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, has been moved up from October, just before the general election, to June 19.

That will beat the scheduled July 3 publication of "The Rise of Marco Rubio," a biography by Washington Post reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia, who reported last fall that Rubio's family history -- the centerpiece of which was a flight from Castro's dictatorship in Cuba -- had been embellished. (Rubio's parents left Cuba in 1956, while Castro didn't assume power until 1959.)

It may be hard for either book to outdo the most intriguing and potentially consequential Rubio story to date: McKay Coppins' article in Buzzfeed detailing Rubio's childhood as a Mormon (he now identifies as Catholic).  If probable Republican nominee Mitt Romney, the most prominent Mormon in America, were inclined to pick Rubio as his running mate, Rubio's former religion would almost certainly become an issue.

Coppins reported that his inquiries into Rubio's former Mormonism sent Rubio's staff "into frantic damage-control mode." In a party that has indulged quite a bit of crazy talk about President Barack Obama,  Rubio's advisers surely know that it doesn't take much imagination to transform a political coincidence into a political conspiracy.

(Francis Wilkinson is a member of the Bloomberg View editorial board. Follow him on Twitter.)

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-0- Mar/19/2012 19:28 GMT