Bow, N.H., Feb. 3 – Rubio credits his father and grandfather with shaping his views about people with disabilities.
“The two most influential men growing up in my life were my father and my grandfather. They both happened to be disabled,” presidential candidate Marco Rubio said in Bow, New Hampshire on Wednesday.
Rubio said his grandfather raised seven kids in Cuba without the use of his leg following developing polio as a young child, after which a bus accident further hurt the leg.
“You can imagine how difficult it was in a developing country for a disabled man to find work,” said Rubio.
Rubio also said his father was playing sandlot baseball when he had an accident that severed one of his nerves in his leg. “That’s one of the reasons they struggled when they got to America,” Rubio said. “A lot of the jobs required physical labor, were things that he could not do.”
While Rubio said his family members did not have severe disabilities, he said it impacted their lives significantly. However, he praised the opportunities people with disabilities have in the United States.
“One of the things that makes America special – in a lot of countries in the world, if you are disabled, you’re usually left behind. They don’t even try. I mean, whether it’s a learning disability, a physical disability, developmental disability – other nations just don’t try. In America, we are committed to allowing everyone to fulfill their potential.”
Rubio also echoed his continued support for reforming Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and fixing what he believes “is a growing amount of abuse in the disability fund.” Rubio asserted that some SSDI beneficiaries may not be able to work full time, but said, “they could work 20 or 30 hours a week and it allows them to develop personally because they received the specialized training to do that.”
He renewed his commitment to keeping health insurance available for people with pre-existing conditions. “Instead of disrupting the entire marketplace, the government through high risk pools, at the state level with federal backing, could create insurance for people who have a long term chronic condition that does not allow them to be affordably insured in the private market,” said Rubio.