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Republicans are not taking resumed relations with Cuba well

The 2016 campaign is already underway.


Patrick Howell O'Neill


Posted on Dec 17, 2014   Updated on May 29, 2021, 11:19 pm CDT

Minutes after President Obama announced that the U.S. and Cuba were resuming diplomatic relations after more than half a century without them, potential Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Fla.) took to Fox News to criticize him.

“All these tyrants around the world know the United States can be had,” Cruz said, adding that he believed Obama is the worst negotiator since Jimmy Carter and “perhaps in modern history.”

Multiple surveys taken over the last decade show that most Americans believe the U.S. should open normal diplomatic relations with Cuba. People who identify as liberal Democrats are generally far more in favor of normal relations, but self-described moderate and liberal Republicans also say the U.S. should restore ties.

Conservative Republicans and Republicans overall, on the other hand, lean against ending the embargo by margins of around 53 and 46 percent respectively.

Another potential Republican presidential candidate and a Cuban-American, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), blasted Obama as well.

“This is going to do absolutely nothing to further human rights and democracy in Cuba,” he said. “But it potentially goes a long way in providing the economic lift that the Castro regime needs to become permanent fixtures in Cuba for generations to come.”

Brad Blakeman, a former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush, said on Fox that the move toward restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba “empowers despots around the world.”

Many Democrats took to television to defend and endorse Obama’s position. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) advocated ending the half-century long embargo against Cuba, which can only be passed through Congress.

“The only thing the embargo has done is hurt the Cuban people,” Udall said on Fox News. “Normalizing relations is long overdue. Congress, our role now, is to step forward … and lift that embargo.”

Criticism wasn’t strictly set along partisan lines, however.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said Obama’s recent decision “rewards Cuba for brutal behavior” and that “an extremely dangerous precedent has been set when you release convicted criminals,” referring to the Cubans released as part of the prisoner trade.

Photo via Stephen Colebourne

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*First Published: Dec 17, 2014, 2:04 pm CST