The campaign said Mario Rubio, 83, was surrounded by family when he died late Saturday, The Miami Herald reported. He suffered from emphysema and lung cancer.
"He was by far the most unselfish person I have ever known, always focused on others, and never on his own well being," Rubio said in a statement. "He was especially determined to provide his children opportunities he himself never had."
Rubio was the first Cuban-American speaker of the Florida House before term limits forced him to leave office in 2008. Rubio forced Gov. Charlie Crist to leave the Republican primary and run as an independent for the Senate seat. Crist and Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek are Rubio's main competitors in the Nov. 2 election.
"He was very proud of my public service," Rubio said of his father. "And over the last 18 months he became an expert channel surfer, constantly searching for my next television interview."
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