Don’t look now, but the 2016 presidential campaign just shifted from the back burner into at least a low simmer on the front burner. Following President Obama’s announcement that the United States would establish diplomatic relations with the Cuban government, many 2016 presidential candidates quickly released some thoughts on the subject. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is on the record saying he thinks this is probably a good move and that, in his opinion, the embargo against the tiny island nation has not worked.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a son of Cuban immigrants, has taken Paul to task over his stance. Report from the Daily Caller:
Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio slammed fellow Republican Senator Rand Paul for his support of President Barack Obama’s Cuba policy, telling Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that Paul “has no idea what he’s talking about.”
KELLY: Senator Marco Rubio, your thoughts on Senator Rand Paul’s comments supporting the president?
RUBIO: Well, like many people that have hit on it, he has no idea what he’s talking about. And I’ll tell you why; number one, the embargo on Cuba is an embargo that frankly has a bunch of holes in it. To give you an example, the United States is still one of Cuba’s largest trading partners, even now with the embargo.
All sorts of commercial products and humanitarian products like food stuffs and other things are available in Cuba. Americans travel there all the time on what they call cultural exchanges. A bunch of Americans travel there, by the way, in violation of the embargo through third countries. Cuban-Americans can travel as many times as they want. they can send a lot of money back to Cuba to their relatives.
What’s hurting the Cuban people is not the embargo. What’s hurting the Cuban people is the Cuban government.
Thus, we have on display a sample of the foreign policy discussion that will take place during the 2016 Republican primary. On the one hand, Rand Paul is more libertarian in his views about America’s role in the world. Rubio, on the other hand, represents a more interventionist line of thinking which is held by a good portion of voters in the Republican Party.
Paul responds, via Facebook:
Senator Marco Rubio believes the embargo against Cuba has been ineffective, yet he wants to continue perpetuating failed policies. After 50 years of conflict, why not try a new approach? The United States trades and engages with other communist nations, such as China and Vietnam. Why not Cuba? I am a proponent of peace through commerce, and I believe engaging Cuba can lead to positive change.
Seems to me, Senator Rubio is acting like an isolationist who wants to retreat to our borders and perhaps build a moat. I reject this isolationism. Finally, let’s be clear that Senator Rubio does not speak for the majority of Cuban-Americans. A recent poll demonstrates that a large majority of Cuban-Americans actually support normalizing relations between our countries.
And so it begins…