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Marco Rubio, the Florida senator who is considered a top prospect for the GOP’s vice presidential nomination, became a member of the Mormon church while his family lived in Nevada during his childhood years, according to a report on the political blog Buzzfeed.
Family members told the publication that Rubio was baptized in the Mormon church at about the age of 8 – along with some of his family members – when they lived in Nevada.
Several years later he left the Mormon church and rejoined the Catholic Church, the report said.
Mormonism has become an issue in this year’s GOP presidential race because of Mitt Romney’s LDS membership. Former Gov. Jon Huntsman, who has dropped out of the Republican race, also is a Mormon.
A report in the Salt Lake Tribune, located in the shadow of the Mormon church’s massive headquarters complex in Utah, confirmed Rubio attended the Mormon church from ages 8 until 11.
While he still considers himself Catholic, he and his family also occasionally attend a non-denominational church in Florida, the report today said.
The Buzzfeed report said Rubio spokesman Alex Conant confirmed the timeline and basic facts.
“The revelation adds a new dimension to Rubio’s already-nuanced religious history – and could complicate his political future at a time when many Republicans see him as the odds-on favorite for the 2012 vice presidential nod. Vice presidential candidates are traditionally chosen to provide ethnic and religious balance to a ticket. Mitt Romney’s Mormonism and Rubio’s Catholic faith would already mean the first two members of minority traditions on a Republican ticket in American history. Rubio’s Mormon roots could further complicate that calculation,” the report said.
WND previously reported that a recent poll showed Rubio to be the top choice among Republicans and independents for the vice-presidential slot.
The national survey of 800 registered voters by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind showed Rubio receiving 66 mentions, more than 8 percent of the time, followed by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
“Anytime you place ahead of Sarah Palin, call yourself a winner,” said poll director Peter Woolley, “Her name recognition and presence are formidable.”
The question given to respondents was open-ended, asking: “No matter who is the Republican nominee for president, if you could pick the vice presidential nominee, who would it be?”
After Palin, the top names were Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Romney, Michele Bachmann and surprisingly, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
While Rubio himself has expressed numerous times that he is not interested in running for vice president, the public’s interest in him has not waned.
But his presence on the ticket could cause a backlash among some voters who believe he is not a natural-born citizen of the United States and thus ineligible for president or vice president.
Though Rubio was born in Miami, Fla., in 1971, his parents were not U.S. citizens at the time, and they did not become American citizens until Nov. 5, 1975, four years after Marco was born.
Some scholars and historians believe that a natural-born citizen must be someone born to parents who are both already U.S. citizens.
“Rubio’s not eligible,” WND Editor Joseph Farah told Sean Hannity during an appearance on the Fox News Channel last month.
“You’re going to lose 10 percent of the Republican vote because he’s not a natural-born citizen. We’ve been through this with Obama now for four years. You want to open that can of worms again?”