Saturday, September 22, 2012

Stop me if you've heard this one before

Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan stumps at the Versailles
Restaurant on Saturday. Photo By Pedro Portal / EL Nuevo Herald
Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan on Saturday brought his Pander Bear Express to Little Havana's Versailles Restaurant.

From the New York Times:
Ryan Criticizes Obama’s Cuba Policy and Explains His Shift on the Issue

MIAMI — On a morning intended to reassure hard-line anti-Castro voters, who are a powerful force in South Florida Republican politics, Representative Paul D. Ryan made a pilgrimage to a restaurant here at the heart of the Cuban exile community in Little Havana. Part of the reason: to criticize what he called President Obama’s “appeasement” of the Cuban government.

But the visit was also intended to do some fence-mending of his own: as a young congressman from a largely rural Wisconsin district, Mr. Ryan, now Mitt Romney’s 42-year-old vice-presidential running mate, supported ending the trade embargo with Cuba, an unpopular sentiment among many Republicans and Cuban exiles in this part of Florida, one of the most crucial swing states in the general election.

“If we think engagement works well with China, well, it ought to work well with Cuba,” Mr. Ryan had said a decade ago in an interview with The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The embargo doesn’t work. It is a failed policy,” he said, adding that while many Cuban-Americans were passionate in their support of the embargo, “I just don’t agree with them and never have.”

And so on Saturday morning, Mr. Ryan appeared alongside a powerhouse lineup of Florida Republicans including former Gov. Jeb Bush at the restaurant Versailles, long famous as a gathering place for the anti-Castro movement.

And here's how the Miami Herald chronicled his visit:
In Little Havana, Paul Ryan pledges hard line on Cuba

The Republican vice presidential candidate said his Miami Cuban-American colleagues in Congress have taught him about conditions in Cuba, and he said he and Mitt Romney would enforce a “tough” policy toward the island.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan got the Cuban exile seal of approval Saturday at a campaign rally in Little Havana where he pledged to hold a hard line against the Castro regime.

The Republican vice presidential candidate did not mention that he once opposed the U.S. trade embargo against the island, but he pointed to his change of heart — prompted by Miami’s current and former Cuban-American Republicans in Congress, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart.

“They’ve given me a great education — lots of us in Congress — about how we need to clamp down on the Castro regime,” Ryan told supporters at the Versailles restaurant. “We will be tough on Castro, tough on [Venezuelan President Hugo] Ch├ívez.”
So, let me see if I've got this right:

Paul Ryan, who is one half of the team that says it's time to do things differently, shows up at the Versailles and pledges during yet another cliche-filled photo-op that he's all about keeping the failed, half-century old embargo against Cuba in place. That's fresh thinking, Paul?

Telling Cuban-Americans what
they want to hear is a time-honored
Republican tradition.
May, 20, 1983.
In March 2007, Miami Herald reporter Beth Reinhard wrote, "For politicians visiting Miami-Dade, glad-handing with patrons at the coffee window at Versailles has become as compulsory as kissing babies. But sipping cafe con leche and shouting 'Viva Cuba libre!' no longer guarantees votes in a community that has moved from the margins of society to the professional and political mainstream."

In her piece, Reinhard quoted a prominent Cuban-American Republican: "Cuban-American voters have reached a level of political sophistication where the empty rhetoric of the past regarding Cuba's liberation is no longer acceptable. Our community now demands specific policy proposals on achieving freedom and democracy for the Cuban people. Anything less is summarily rejected."

Which Cuban-American Republican uttered those words?

None other than David Rivera, who was a state representative in 2007, and who's now the subject of numerous local, state and federal investigations.

Rivera didn't show up at the Versailles today to get his picture taken with Ryan.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Romney and Ryan will say absolutely anything to get votes. Fifty years of the embargo have done nothing to bring down the Castro regime, but the hard line rhetoric by our Cuban-American politicians does keep them in office. I keep hearing about changes in attitude within the Cuban-American community, but except for Joe Garcia, there don't seem to be any candidates articulating a different policy. Meanwhile, Ileana and Mario breeze back into Congress unopposed.


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