WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who likes to joke in speeches that his book An American Son is available on Amazon, earned $800,000 off it in 2012, his newly filed financial disclosure shows.
The Florida Republican used the money to strike an albatross from previous disclosures: more than $100,000 in college loan debt.
The $800,000 advance from publisher Penguin Group puts Rubio in a league with other recent senators who have become national figures. Former Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts got a $700,000 advance for his book in 2010. In 2006, then-Sen. Barack Obama listed $147,000 in royalties for one book and a $425,000 advance for another.
Rubio — a much-talked-about possible 2016 presidential candidate — stands to make a lot more. His deal calls for royalty payments of 15 percent of sales of the hardcover edition; 7.5 percent to 10 percent of paperback (due out May 28); and 25 percent of audio editions.
Obama is still raking in royalties for his books. His financial disclosure, released Wednesday, shows he earned between $100,000 and $1 million for his book Dreams from My Father and a children's book, Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters; and between $50,001 and $100,000 for The Audacity of Hope.
Rubio's An American Son, which was published in English and Spanish, is part biography, part political document. Rubio tells his family's Cuban immigrant story, his cigar smoking grandfather who taught him about Ronald Reagan and his parents, a hotel bartender and Kmart stock clerk who pursued the American Dream. It also dwells heavily on the 2010 U.S. Senate race in which Rubio began as a long-shot candidate against then Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and stuck in the race as some of his closest advisers urged him to get out. Rubio had his own doubts.
"Had the Republican Party chairman or Crist himself reached out to me personally in the spring of 2009, they could probably have persuaded me not to run," Rubio wrote. "I'm not proud of it now, but I think if they had acknowledged my concern that the party had strayed too far from our conservative principles, I would have walked away from the Senate race. I was looking for a face-saving way out. Instead, out of pride and hubris, they chose to intimidate me. And I, too, reacted out of pride. ... I became more comfortable with the idea of running for the Senate, whether or not Charlie Crist decided to stand in my way."
Elected in 2010 on a tea party wave, Rubio was an instant star in the GOP and has worked to establish a national profile. He has also worked to broaden the party's message, talking about the middle class, the struggles of student loans and high cost of college and promoting "career education" for people who may not want to go to a four-year school.
His 2012 financial disclosure shows $16,416 in income from his part-time teaching job at Florida International University. His wife, Jeanette, also earned money through her consulting firm JDR Events Inc., though he is required to report only that she earned "over $1,000."
Rubio reports a 30-year mortgage on his home in West Miami and a home equity loan as well as a 30-year mortgage on the home he owns in Tallahassee with David Rivera, a former state representative and congressman.
Alex Leary can be reached at [email protected]