October 19, 2021

Marco Rubio Fires Back On Cuba: Obama Is The ‘Worst Negotiator’ In My Lifetime

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will get no money for his Cuba policy, no ambassador will be confirmed and the embargo will never be lifted, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) vowed in a blistering press conference on Wednesday.

In a historic move earlier in the day, Obama announced that the United States will begin talks with Cuba to normalize full diplomatic relations, marking the most significant shift in U.S. policy towards Cuba in 50 years. The president’s remarks followed the release on Wednesday morning of American Alan Gross, who had been held in a Cuban prison for five years. Gross’ release was negotiated in exchange for the freeing of three Cubans who had been jailed in the U.S. for spying.

“This entire policy shift announced today is based on an illusion, based on a lie,” Rubio, who is the son of Cuban immigrants, told reporters on Capitol Hill. “The White House has conceded everything and gained little.”

“I’m committed to doing everything I can to unravel as many of these changes as possible,” he added.

The Florida senator’s powers in that regard will be considerable. Soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) deferred to Rubio when asked for comment on the issue. And when the new, Republican-led Senate comes into session on Jan. 6, Rubio will be the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee’s subcommittee on the Western hemisphere, which has oversight responsibility for U.S. dealings in the region.

“This Congress is not going to lift the embargo,” Rubio declared at the end of his news conference.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) also slammed the change in policy, saying it “emboldens all state sponsors of terrorism.”

“Relations with the Castro regime should not be revisited, let alone normalized, until the Cuban people enjoy freedom -– and not one second sooner,” Boehner said in a statement. “There is no ‘new course’ here, only another in a long line of mindless concessions to a dictatorship that brutalizes its people and schemes with our enemies.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), one of the most outspoken Republicans in Congress on matters of foreign policy, threatened to do everything in his power to block funding from being used to set up a U.S. embassy in Cuba. “Normalizing relations with Cuba is bad idea at a bad time,” Graham said on Twitter.

Rubio, a potential presidential candidate in 2016, has been a longtime critic of the regime in Cuba and of Obama’s foreign policy — which he dubbed on Wednesday as “not just naive, but willfully ignorant of the way the world truly works.”

“This president is the single worst negotiator we have had in the White House in my lifetime,” Rubio said.

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