During an appearance on Fox News’ The Kelly File Thursday night, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) criticized Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for agreeing with President Obama’s decision to normalize the United States’ relationship with Cuba. Rubio told host Megyn Kelly that Paul “has no idea what he is talking about.” This came after Paul told a West Virginia radio station that the Cuban embargo hasn’t worked and that President Obama’s decision to resume diplomatic relations with the country is likely the best course of action. Paul also said that the only the Cuban people have been hurt by America’s actions towards Cuba and a new direction is needed.
Rubio, who is considered a potential GOP Presidential candidate in 2016, has used the White House’s announcement as a way to jump back into the limelight. Immediately after Obama declared American Alan Gross had been released from a Cuban prison and the two countries would start working together after 50 years of non-communication and sanctions, Rubio assailed POTUS and claimed that he would do everything in his power to prevent Obama’s actions from taking effect. In regards to the prisoner exchange with Cuba to bring Gross home, Rubio called the president “the worst negotiator that we’ve had as President since at least Jimmy Carter, and maybe in the history of this country.”
While speaking with Kelly Thursday evening, Rubio not only criticized Obama and Paul for wanting to normalize the relationship with Cuba, but also claimed that the embargo was necessary to affect change in Cuba. One would think that after 50 years, with no regime change and only the citizens feeling the true impact of the embargo, that it might be time to go with a different strategy, but that isn’t the case with Rubio. He said the following to Kelly:
“I would expect that people would understand that if they just took a moment to analyze that, they would realize that the embargo is not what’s hurting the Cuban people, it’s the lack of freedom and the lack of competent leaders.”
It’s as if Rubio is saying, “Just give it a little more time. It will finally work. I swear!”
Below is video of Rubio’s appearance on The Kelly File, courtesy of Fox News:
It is somewhat understandable why Rubio is taking this position. Besides using it as an opportunity to make some political hay and get his name back in the public sphere ahead of the 2016 GOP primary, Rubio is the son of Cuban immigrants. Like many Cuban-Americans, Rubio sees this as essentially rewarding the Castro regime for 50+ years of human rights violations and oppressive government control of Cuba. From an emotional point of view, it is a somewhat fair argument to make. While it seems obvious that a new direction needed to be taken and the embargo had to go, many Cuban-Americans still have an extremely negative view of the Castro government.
Meanwhile, Paul is positioning himself as the GOP frontrunner in 2016, and much of that comes from his opportunistic statements on policy that could potentially appeal to moderates and liberals. Besides agreeing with Obama on Cuba, Paul has said that the country’s prison system and judicial policies is racially biased due to the focus on illegal drugs, even working with Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) on the issue. He’s even pushed back against conservative media at times, specifically when Sean Hannity tried to paint ISIS as representing all of Islam.
Now, let’s get one thing straight. Paul is a far-right conservative whose economic policies consist largely of ‘eliminate all taxes,’ and his ideology is squarely in the Tea Party vein. (Heck, his father is the godfather of the movement.) However, he and his staff and savvy enough to realize that appealing just to the old, white base of the GOP isn’t going to win you a Presidential election. Therefore, you see Paul taking every opportunity to get on the other side of a number of issues that he knows the other GOP candidates will be on the losing side of, such as Cuba.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).