Friday, July 31, 2015

Hillary Talks Anti-Embargo in Miami

I am not the first nor will I be the last to mention the historical importance of Hillary Clinton's speech in Miami on Cuba, but it's worth bringing up. She said:

“It’s time for [GOP] leaders to either get on board or get out of the way. The Cuba embargo needs to go, once and for all,” Clinton said. 
The 2016 Republican candidates “have it backward,” Clinton said. “Engagement is not a gift to the Castros, its a threat to the Castros. An American embassy in Havana isn’t a concession, it’s a beacon.”
This is a big deal. Clinton is the heavyweight of the Democratic Party and is now making ending the embargo a campaign pledge. President Obama's normalization of relations, which were announced only last December, are having the effect of making normal relations with Cuba more...normal. Even more importantly, she is a major candidate who will face a tough campaign (for anyone, following a two-term president of your own party is very difficult) yet still sees this message resonating in Miami! I'd love to see a study of the evolution of Florida presidential campaign rhetoric.

Back in 1992, Jorge Mas Canosa praised Bill Clinton for being very anti-Castro. As president, Clinton made sure to keep that allegiance, at least until he returned Elián González, by which time he was a lame duck anyway. And of course Al Gore, who was running for president, made sure to disagree because he hoped to win Florida. We don't need to get into how that worked out.

My overall point is that things have changed quickly. Not long ago, opposing the embargo would've been electoral disaster. Florida is an important part of our odd presidential electoral system, so candidates need to tailor their speeches to the local audience. That audience no longer needs anti-Castro red meat.


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