Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) made the Sunday talk show rounds today to weigh in on President Obama’s decision last week to normalize relations with Cuba. Rubio, who is a potential 2016 Republican presidential nominee, is strongly opposed to Obama’s actions.
Meet the Press host Chuck Todd went after Rubio right out of the box, asking, “What was working with the old policy?”, as if to suggest that those opposed to Obama’s executive action on Cuba are wrong. But the senator, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba in 1956, was ready:
“That’s not the question. The question is, what new policy can we put in place that will actually achieve our goal? Our goal for Cuba is freedom and liberty for the Cuban people.
And my opposition to what the president has done is it won’t do anything to further that cause.
On the contrary, just yesterday, Raúl Castro gave a speech where he made very clear there will be no political change on the island. Nor did the president ask for any.
So, if you’re going to make concessions to Cuba, if you’re going to recognize them diplomatically, if you’re going to have more commerce with them, there has to be some reciprocal opening on their part towards democracy. There was none.”
Rubio also suggested on ABC’s This Week that while American travel to Cuba will increase, very little of the money they spend will find its way to the Cuban people.
“They will take more travel, they will take more commerce, they will pocket the vast majority of the money that’s generated from it.”
The debate over Obama’s decision is likely to continue for years to come. Moreover, it is not divided along party lines.
Late last week, another GOP presidential hopeful, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), backed the president’s actions, only to be skewered by Rubio for having “no idea what he’s talking about.” Unsurprisingly, Paul shot back with a series of tweets.
On one hand, more than five decades of the U.S. effort to isolate Cuba has failed to move the island nation toward democracy. On the other hand, maybe it is time to try another approach. This debate is not likely to be ended soon, but Rubio is a more-than-capable spokesman for his side.