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McCain, Wooing Florida, Hits Obama on Cuba Policy


Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) waves as he arrives for a town hall meeting on Cuban Independence Day in Miami on May 20, 2008. Behind him, center, is the Cuban flag. (Associated Press)

Corrected 5:00 p.m.
By Juliet Eilperin
MIAMI -- Using a Cuban folklorico band as a warm-up act, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) highlighted his opposition to the Cuban government this morning and questioned Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) willingness to talk to its current president, Raul Castro.

Vowing, "as president, I will not passively await the day when the Cuban people enjoy the blessings of freedom and democracy," McCain said he would keep the U.S. embargo in place until the regime's leaders agreed "to release all political prisoners unconditionally, to legalize all political parties, labor unions and free media, and to schedule internationally monitored elections. ... Make no mistake Cuba is destined to be free. Cuba is destined to be free."

The presumptive GOP nominee also sought to differentiate his Cuba policy as much as possible from Obama's, quoting an answer Obama gave in a questionnaire a few years ago when he backed lifting the embargo. At the time, Obama wrote, "I believe that normalization of relations with Cuba would help the oppressed and poverty-stricken Cuban people while setting the stage for a more democratic government once Castro inevitably leaves the scene." Noting wryly that his opponent's approach represented "an interesting perspective on Cuba," McCain drew chuckles from the crowd.

While Obama now says he wants to ease the embargo instead of lifting it altogether, McCain used his speech as an opportunity to blast Obama's vow to meet Raul Castro and other hostile foreign leaders without conditions: simply mentioning the Democrat's position inspired boos from several members of the audience.

"These steps would send the worst possible signal to Cuba's dictators -- there is no need to undertake fundamental reforms, they can simply wait for a unilateral change in U.S. policy," McCain said. "I believe we should give hope to the Cuban people, not to the Castro regime. My administration will press the Cuban government. The embargo must stay in place until these basic elements of democratic society are met."

When asked whether he would support prosecuting Raul and his brother Fidel, Cuba's longtime leader, for killing civilians who had fled to sea in order to escape political repression, McCain answered simply, "Yes." A moment later, he clarified his remarks by saying if elected he would order his attorney general "to conduct a full and complete investigation" into whether unarmed Cuban civilians were "killed without provocation, apparently under orders of the government," while at sea.

McCain's words sparked an enthusiastic response from the several hundred Latinos in the crowd, the vast majority of whom were Cuban Republicans. Dotty Vazquez, a local GOP activist who campaigned on behalf of former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) during the primary ("I did a lot of phone banks, I'm great at it," she said), said the Cuban community in South Florida is now united behind the Arizona senator.

"They don't like Obama because of his ideals," she said. "It's not because of his color -- the Cuban people are not racist -- it's his liberalism and the way talks, everything, we don't like."

Vazquez did suggest, however, that Obama had Muslim sympathies. "Where is he getting all the money?" she asked. "He's going right now to Tampa and Hollywood, the biggest Islamic populations are there."

Maria Castellon, a housewife who emigrated from Cuba to the U.S. in 1971 as a teenager, said she trusted McCain to take a hard line against both Castro brothers. "We want to have someone who will be strong with Castro," she said. "We don't want any deal with Castro. He has all our family and the Cuban people as a hostage."

One female questioner even equated Obama with Fidel Castro, saying that when she watches America's youth look at the Democratic senator adoringly during this campaign, "I see the Cuban youth, fifty years ago, fascinated by empty words by someone not questioned at the time."

Replying to the questioner, McCain mocked Obama for being naïve in his willingness to meet with Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"What are they going to talk about, the destruction of Israel?" he said. "Roosevelt didn't talk with Hitler.... It's dangerous to America's national security when you sit down and give respect to countries that are committed to the destruction of America, or the destruction of" America's allies.

Democrats, including Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.) questioned McCain's fierce opposition to the U.S. embargo against Cuba, saying the GOP senator used to have a more flexible position.

"John McCain needs to explain why continuing to do exactly what George Bush has done will somehow produce a different result. The Senator McCain I used to know was open to negotiations with Cuba to lift the embargo, but now he's taking a hard line position, embracing a policy that has failed the Cuban people and the American people alike for fifty years," Dodd said in a statement. "Instead of four more years of George Bush's policy, Barack Obama will help bring liberty to Cuba through direct diplomacy and change that allows for unlimited family visitation and remittances to the island. It's time to reject a Bush-McCain approach that has isolated us in our own hemisphere, so that we can have renewed American leadership under Barack Obama."

During both his speech and the question-and-answer period that followed, McCain took the opportunity to hit several conservative hot-button issues. After quoting the Constitution's preamble, he said the idea of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness ... means the life of the unborn as well as the life" of Americans who are already born.

He also attacked the Democrats -- including Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) -- for opposing a free trade agreement with Columbia, saying they wished "to retreat behind protectionist walls and undermine a key hemispheric ally." He said he would press to pass it as president.

While McCain largely towed the GOP party line during his Miami visit, he challenged some members of the crowd when a woman asked whether he would work to free the prisoners held at Guantanamo. The audience booed the questioner: McCain instructed them to be polite and said he would transfer those prisoners to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and would push for a speedier resolution of those cases.

However McCain emphasized they would not get all the same privileges as U.S. civilian prisoners, and he sparked another round of applause by saying, "Some of these people are some of the most evil people who have ever existed, and should never see the light of day."

Toward the end of his appearance, several members emphasized McCain would reap political rewards in the fall for taking such a confrontational stance against the current Cuban regime. Ninoska Perez Castellon, a commentator for an anti-Castro radio station Radio Mambi, informed him that in light of that policy, "For that, believe me, Florida will be yours."

In response, McCain couldn't resist making a joke at the expense of the man who introduced him, Perez Castellon's husband Roberto Martin Perez, who spent 28 years in Cuba's prisons. Earlier in the day McCain had called the former prisoner "a true American hero," but now he mocked him as a way of complimenting his wife.

"Thank you," McCain told Perez Castellon. "You're very beautiful, and you clearly married beneath yourself."

This item originally reported incorrectly that Ninoska Perez Castellon and Roberto Martin Perez were divorced. In fact, they remain married.

By Web Politics Editor  |  May 20, 2008; 12:30 PM ET
 
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Comments

McCain foreign policy-

Cuba: 50 more years!
Iraq: 100 more years!
bush: 4 more years!

Posted by: theantibush | May 21, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Even thought it is becoming increasingly complex and diverse, the Cuban exile community remains one of the most racist and self-absorbed in our country. At it's core these are the rich white folks that left the island when Castro came to power. Cuba was one of the last countries on the planet to outlaw slavery & the ancestors of Miami Cubans were the ones running the haciendas. Let McCain pander to this group. Most of the rest of the country has already moved beyond their archaic mindset.

Posted by: Robert | May 21, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Sally says: "I am a Democrat."

___________________________________

Sure you are, Sally.

But whatever...

Since you are so impressed with McPander's Washington "experience" perhaps you can explain why Republicans, in 2000, were not impressed with McPander's Washington "experience" and rejected him in favor of someone with NO Washington experience.

Or perhaps you can explain what McPander has done in the last eight years that now makes him qualified for the Oval Office.

Waiting...

Posted by: RAS | May 20, 2008 9:23 PM | Report abuse

I am a Democrat. One thing I cannot understand is how we could get two inexperienced people to run for our nomination. all they can do is kiss and promise(change,change, change, that's all they talk about.)
Like my ex-husband used to say "I'll change, I'll quit drinking, I'll quit chasing, I'll change) he never did. He didn't know how to change.

our candidates don't have the experience or pull to change anything.

A first term Illinois Senator with no economic experience. A first term NY Senator with little experience.

Is it too late to get a Democrat that has 12-15 years in Washington, and maybe has been a business executive for 10 years.

At least McCain has been a Senator for a long time. That's what they have going.

I hope this ignorance doesn't come back to bite us Dems.


Posted by: sally | May 20, 2008 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Decades after coming to America, the Cubans to which McCain panders are still Cubans.

America is simply a convenient resting place until they can resume their places under the Cuban sun -- and under another criminal leader like Batista.

Posted by: RAS | May 20, 2008 8:12 PM | Report abuse

The woman said Cuban old timers are all registered Democrats. No wonder politicians can hood wink some people. Lady, they are all Cuban right wing republicans with the same story for the past 45+ years. They will never change until they have all passed. Is the lady commenting from Alaska or Hawaii?

Posted by: truth1 | May 20, 2008 7:02 PM | Report abuse

McSame wants us to use the same policy on Iran that has worked so well with Cuba. Fifty years ago we decided we could bring down the Castro regime by isolating them and refuseing to talk to them. Given what an outstanding success this policy has been, is it any wonder McSame and Bush want to keep the same policy for Iran?

Posted by: dcwsano | May 20, 2008 6:29 PM | Report abuse

I am ashamed to say I was an early supporter of John McCain. He has betrayed me and every other moderate in the country, showing himself, by the series of hysterical remarks of late, to be dangerous right wing zealot. From the way he is talking, he looks to be even more dangerouis, more prone to cowboy diplomacy, than Bush-Cheney. Obama, at least, is SANE and we can be sure he isn't some senile old coot that has finally gone off his rocker.

Posted by: MikeB | May 20, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse

John McCain and the Keating Five:5

The Keating Five became synonymous for the kind of political influence that money can buy. As the S&L failure deepened, the sheer magnitude of the losses hit the press. Billions of dollars had been squandered. The five senators were linked as the gang who shilled for an S&L bandit.

S&L "trading cards" came out. The Keating Five card showed Charles Keating holding up his hand, with a senator's head adorning each finger. McCain was on Keating's pinkie.

As the investigation dragged through 1988, McCain dodged the hardest blows. Most landed on DeConcini, who had arranged the meetings and had other close ties to Keating, including $50 million in loans from Keating to DeConcini's aides.

But McCain made a critical error.

He had adopted the blanket defense that Keating was a constituent and that he had every right to ask his senators for help. In attending the meetings, McCain said, he simply wanted to make sure that Keating was treated like any other constituent.

Keating was no ordinary constituent to McCain.

On Oct. 8, 1989, The Arizona Republic revealed that McCain's wife and her father had invested $359,100 in a Keating shopping center in April 1986, a year before McCain met with the regulators.

The paper also reported that the McCains, sometimes accompanied by their daughter and baby-sitter, had made at least nine trips at Keating's expense, sometimes aboard the American Continental jet. Three of the trips were made during vacations to Keating's opulent Bahamas retreat at Cat Cay.

McCain also did not pay Keating for some of the trips until years after they were taken, after he learned that Keating was in trouble over Lincoln. Total cost: $13,433.

When the story broke, McCain did nothing to help himself.

"You're a liar," McCain said when a Republic reporter asked him about the business relationship between his wife and Keating.

"That's the spouse's involvement, you idiot," McCain said later in the same conversation. "You do understand English, don't you?"

He also belittled reporters when they asked about his wife's ties to Keating.

"It's up to you to find that out, kids."

The paper ran the story.

In his 2002 book, McCain confesses to "ridiculously immature behavior" during that particular interview and adds that The Republic reporters' "persistence in questioning me about the matter provoked me to rage."

"I don't know how (The Republic journalists) would have reported the story had I been more civil and understanding or just more of a professional during the interview," McCain wrote.

At a news conference after the story ran, McCain was a changed man. He stood calmly for 90 minutes and answered every question.

On the shopping center, his defense was simple. The deal did not involve him. The shares in the shopping center had been bought by a partnership set up between McCain's wife and her father. (The couple also had a prenuptial agreement that separated Cindy McCain's finances and dealings from his.)

But McCain also had to explain his trips with Keating and why he didn't pay Keating back right away.

On that score, McCain admitted he had fouled up. He said he should have reimbursed Keating immediately, not waited several years. His staff said it was an oversight, but it looked bad, McCain jetting around with Keating, then going to bat for him with the federal regulators.

"I was in a hell of a mess," McCain later would write.

Meanwhile, Lincoln continued to founder.

In April 1989, two years after the Keating Five meetings, the government seized Lincoln, which declared bankruptcy. In September 1990, Keating was booked into Los Angeles County Jail, charged with 42 counts of fraud. His bond was set at $5 million.

During Keating's trial, the prosecution produced a parade of elderly investors who had lost their life's savings by investing in American Continental junk bonds.


Verdict: 'Poor judgment'
In November 1990, the Senate Ethics Committee convened to decide what punishment, if any, should be doled out to the Keating Five.

Robert Bennett, who would later represent President Bill Clinton in the Paula Jones case, was the special counsel for the committee. In his opening remarks, he slammed DeConcini but went lightly on McCain, the lone Republican ensnared with four Democrats.

"In the case of Senator McCain, there is very substantial evidence that he thought he had an understanding with Senator DeConcini's office that certain matters would not be gone into at the meeting with (bank board) Chairman (Ed) Gray," Bennett said.

"Moreover, there is substantial evidence that, as a result of Senator McCain's refusal to do certain things, he had a fallout with Mr. Keating."

Among the Keating Five, McCain took the most direct contributions from Keating. But the investigation found that he was the least culpable, along with Glenn. McCain attended the meetings but did nothing afterward to stop Lincoln's death spiral.

Lincoln was the most expensive failure in the national S&L scandal. Taxpayers lost more than $2 billion on the bailout. McCain also looked good in contrast to DeConcini, who continued to defend Keating until fall 1989, when federal regulators filed a $1.1 billion civil racketeering and fraud suit against Keating, accusing him of siphoning Lincoln's deposits to his family and into political campaigns.

In January 1993, a federal jury convicted him of 73 counts of wire and bankruptcy fraud in the collapse of American Continental and Lincoln. Keating was sentenced to 12 years and seven months in prison but served just 50 months before the conviction was overturned on a technicality. In 1999, at age 75, he pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud. He was sentenced to time served.

In the end, McCain received only a mild rebuke from the Ethics Committee for exercising "poor judgment" for intervening with the federal regulators on behalf of Keating. Still, he felt tarred by the affair.

"The appearance of it was wrong," McCain said. "It's a wrong appearance when a group of senators appear in a meeting with a group of regulators because it conveys the impression of undue and improper influence. And it was the wrong thing to do."

McCain noted that Bennett, the independent counsel, recommended that McCain and Glenn be dropped from the investigation.

"For the first time in history, the Ethics Committee overruled the recommendation of the independent counsel," McCain said. For his part, DeConcini is critical of McCain's role in the affair. The two senators never were particularly cozy, and the stress of the public scrutiny worsened their relations.

In his memoir Senator Dennis DeConcini: From the Center of the Aisle, he praises the decision to keep McCain on the hook.

"It became clear to me, and it was later confirmed by Ethics Committee members, that Bennett was attempting to dismiss the charges against McCain, and in order to appear nonpartisan, he included Glenn in this effort," DeConcini wrote with co-author Jack August. "Thanks to the three Democrats on the committee and perhaps with the help of Senator (Jesse) Helms (R-N.C.), however, the charges remained in place for all the senators under investigation. So all of us had to attend the 23-day public hearing, which was indeed a trial, before the six-member Senate Ethics Committee."

In the book, DeConcini reiterates his allegation that McCain leaked to the media "sensitive information" about certain closed proceedings in order to hurt DeConcini, Riegle and Cranston. It's a fairly serious charge. The Boston Globe revisited the Keating Five leaks in 2000. The story paraphrased a congressional investigator, Clark B. Hall, as personally concluding that "McCain was one of the principal leakers." The newspaper also reported that McCain, under oath, had denied involvement with the leaks.

McCain owns up to his mistake this way:

"I was judged eventually, after three years, of using, quote, poor judgment, and I agree with that assessment."

Posted by: Diogenes | May 20, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

John McCain's foreign policy is grounded in the nightmare of his Viet-Nam experience as he continues to relive it even today.

Just ask him and he will tell you that even though we lost over 47,000 brave American military and suffered nearly 250,000 casualtiies and despite killing over 2,000,000 Vietnamese in the process, that we could have "won" in that tiny southeast Asian country ( who by the way, was no threat to the United States,) if we had just stayed another 100 years or so. " The light at the end of the tunnel."

This man is a relic of the past and has no business (except his corporate friend's interests) of leading our country in a new direction. He is a mean spirited, angry old man who would better serve us by retiring to his luxurious ranch and tending to his barbecue and horses.

Not this time. We can't afford the Supreme Court Justices that he is sure to appoint, and the continuing failed policies of the disaster named George Bush.

Posted by: Elizabeth Gilmore | May 20, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I was on alert during the third week of October 1962 when the Russians were coming with their bombs to place them in Cuba. It is now 46 years later and we are still talking about Cuba because republicans want to come to South Florida to make the old Cuban right wingers feel good. Nothing will change. Read Ana Menendez column in the Miami Herald today when she wrote that the three candidates should not come here to talk about Cuba anymore when gasoline price is $4.00, there is unemployment in South Florida, and people are losing their homes.

Posted by: truth1 | May 20, 2008 5:40 PM | Report abuse

The embargo kept us from importing literacy, health care and decent cigars.

Posted by: cubalibre | May 20, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Obama will have a very hard time with even the Cuban old timers whom are registered Democrats. I know them well-they are family-and they have only one word to describe him and his supporters: Communist!

Posted by: Elena
******************

What, all 20 of 'em??

Posted by: Anonymous | May 20, 2008 5:28 PM | Report abuse

When will the Republicans learn you have to use both the carrot and the stick? The embargo of Cuba hasn't worked for nearly 50 years and obviously won't. It only punishes those it purports to help. You want to force change in Cuba, try putting a Major League baseball team in Havana and watch how quickly the current government structure crumbles.

Posted by: Mark H | May 20, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

While I would dismiss most of the crap that is said about Obama, brace yourself. McCain has all the people who worked for Bush, including Rove as an unpaid consultant. This election will make the Willie Horton ads look quaint.

Posted by: Patrick NYC | May 20, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe I had the patience to read the entire "trojan horse" entry by BenNevis. I have to admit it frightened me a little. And not just that, WP bloggers have been posting all sorts of rumors about Obama. And since, we don't know too much about him, these rumors can be scary. I even read one about Obama having a gay guy knocked off because he found out about a gay relationship Obama was having with the choir director at Trinity. Where are you guys getting this stuff from? And how can we know if it's true? Wouldn't the GOP have this info by now? Wouldn't Hillary have this info by now?

Posted by: dcp | May 20, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Like our big problem is Cuba? Relic. Dinosaur. Let's hope he doesn't start singing "Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Fidel."

Posted by: Sara B. | May 20, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse

We've been shunning Cuba since 1959 and it has done nothing. We engaged the old Soviet bloc and it fell.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

I just hate when people brand those trying something different as being pro-Castro. Ridiculous.

Posted by: John Kiernan | May 20, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Castro is laughing, he has outlived 5 US presidents.
US has only got an immigration problem.

McCain you lost to Bush 8 years ago. There will be no second chance... :)

Posted by: IMARQ | May 20, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

"While McCain largely towed the GOP party line"

I'd just like to point out that in this context, you "toe" a line, you don't "tow" a line - as in dragging it behind you. I suppose you COULD make the argument that McCain is dragging the GOP talking points along behind him like baggage, but I'm pretty sure that's not what you meant here.

Somehow, I see more and more reporters incorrectly using this idiom. What happened to journalistic standards? If I'd written an article with a mistake like that in class, I'd have been docked a full letter grade.

Posted by: Bronxx | May 20, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

John McCain's foreign policy is grounded in the nightmare of his Viet-Nam experience as he continues to relive it even today.

Just ask him and he will tell you that even though we lost over 47,000 brave American military and suffered nearly 250,000 casualtiies and despite killing over 2,000,000 Vietnamese in the process, that we could have "won" in that tiny southeast Asian country ( who by the way, was no threat to the United States,) if we had just stayed another 100 years or so. " The light at the end of the tunnel."

This man is a relic of the past and has no business (except his corporate friend's interests) of leading our country in a new direction. He is a mean spirited, angry old man who would better serve us by retiring to his luxurious ranch and tending to his barbecue and horses.

Not this time. We can't afford the Supreme Court Justices that he is sure to appoint, and the continuing failed policies of the disaster named George Bush.

Posted by: Elizabeth Gilmore | May 20, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

"They don't like Obama because of his ideals," she said. "It's not because of his color -- the Cuban people are not racist -- it's his liberalism and the way talks, everything, we don't like."

Vazquez did suggest, however, that Obama had Muslim sympathies. "Where is he getting all the money?" she asked. "He's going right now to Tampa and Hollywood, the biggest Islamic populations are there."
--------------------------------------
Yea she's not racist, and I'm not a white Irish-Catholic.

As someone wisely pointed out if he's that much against the Commies how about Russia and China? Too big to take on or too much money to lose?

Posted by: Patrick NYC | May 20, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

The Miami-Cuban mafia wants the embargo to continue as the lifting of it would end their sweet ride they have had on the backs of the US taxpayers for the past 50 years. Tell me dear Cuban exiles, how many of you have shed blood for THIS country in the past 50 years? Cubans are one of the least represented groups in the US military. Probably because they are heirs of the same cowards who fled Cuba instead of standing and fighting. Same blood.

Posted by: Iraq Vet | May 20, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

"toed the GOP party line," not "towed the GOP party line"

Posted by: Pedant01 | May 20, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Yes, we have to watch out for Cuba. Who knows, they might just invade us and take over. We should never have normal relations with a communist regime. It is a good thing China is a democracy now, right?

Posted by: Iraq Vet | May 20, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Will someone please mention the Bush families and Republicans ties to far right Cuban terrorists. This piece from the UK Guardian sums it up well.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,851913,00.html

Namely Orlando Bosch, who was involved in the 1976 mid-air bombing of a Cubana Airlines flight that killed 73 people, including members of the Cuban national fencing team. He was pardoned in 1992 by the elder Bush.

So much for the Bush maxim "one of the lessons learned after September the 11th is that we must hold people to account for harboring terrorists. If you harbor a terrorist, if you feed a terrorist, if you house a terrorist, you're as equally guilty as the terrorist."

If only the media will mention these folks terrorists who are far worse as much as they do the Weather Underground and Ayers.

Posted by: MRF | May 20, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Viva McCain!!! Viva McCain.....we will deliver Florida Senor McCain!!! Our votes would not count for Senator Obama...he turned his back on us. VIVA McCAIN!!!!

Posted by: gloria | May 20, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Failure, thy name is Helms-Burton...

Posted by: Smoke_Jaguar4 | May 20, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

All the quotes from Senator Obama highlight his lack of experience. It's frightening to think he could be president. I will do all I can to see that he is not elected.

Posted by: kt | May 20, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Time to put these cubans on a boat and send them back to their country. The current GOP cuban policy is just a open door policy to let cubans walk into this country and commit crimes.

Posted by: Playa | May 20, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

ColOmbia please. Columbia is the university.

Posted by: Somerville | May 20, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Could it be any clearer than this. Bush & McCain think alike - which is to say, not at all!

Posted by: Mark McVay | May 20, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Ben Nevis
So-o-o-o-o...your post is relevant to Cuba, how?

Posted by: Jack | May 20, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like a Trojan horse. Will traditional America let it in?

Posted by: Ben Nevis
**************************
the traditional America you spoke of just snoozed their way to your cut and paste of the latest right wing attack. Speaking of horses, get on yours and ride away, GOP lackey.

Posted by: GOP Brand: Change we can fake... | May 20, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

It makes absolutely no sense that we should not have a normalized relationship with Cuba. Are they worse than China? Are they worse than Russia? No. It's the Cuban Mafia in Florida that Republicans are afraid of offending and losing votes and financial support. McCain should take the advice of Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) who has a more common-sense approach.

Posted by: Joyce | May 20, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Juliet -- It's "Colombia" not "Columbia." The former is a country, the latter is a city in South Carolina. Amazing how far the journalism profession has fallen, you work for the washington post? Now, if we could only convince the post to stop the Obama bias and Clinton hatred in articles.

Posted by: Spell Check | May 20, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Dotty Vazquez must be beaming right now. For a nobody who is 'great at phone banks' (if you Google her name the only thing that comes up about her is this article!) she has once again associated Obama with Muslims...

Vazquez did suggest, however, that Obama had Muslim sympathies. "Where is he getting all the money?" she asked. "He's going right now to Tampa and Hollywood, the biggest Islamic populations are there."

Way to go Dotty! You can spew forth lies and hatred like the rest of the right wing spin machine!

I know this is hard to believe but Obama is not a Muslim! And as well, the American Muslim people are no more evil than American Christians or any other American religious group! Wow, imagine that! Muslims are not evil! I know, hard to believe, isn't it, since you believe everything the right wing industrial/military complex has told you.

Posted by: the Lies of Dotty | May 20, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Juliet Eilperin writes
"While McCain largely towed the GOP party line during his Miami visit, he challenged some members of the crowd when a woman asked whether he would work to free the prisoners held at Guantanamo."

Ms. Eilperin, the phrase is usually written "McCain largely toed the GOP party line." The reference is to lining up abreast, with one's toes on a straight line - the implication being that GOP footsoldiers are indistinguishable in their positions - they all have their toes on the same line.

To instead accuse Senator McCain of 'towing' the party line is a common mistake these days, perhaps a misunderstanding of the phrase, or confusion with the practice of internet 'trolling'. The latter term is used to describe the practice of posting an inflammatory comment - and seeing who will bite. In this case, perhaps your implication is that McCain specifically and the GOP generally are merely fishing for votes in Florida with whatever bait they think voters will bite?

Posted by: bsimon | May 20, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: FED-UP! | May 20, 2008 12:59 PM The clintons have lost this race, but rather than face the fact that they lost it, no one took it from them, they would rather BLAME everyone and everything else and just like a child throwing a temper tantrum, their supporters say they will vote McBushCain because they did not get what they wanted! What STUPIDITY! I never get what I want, but I still hang in there and do what I know in my heart is the RIGHT thing in life! So if these 'children' really mean what they threaten, then register as the Pugs you appear to be. McBushCain will continue on his "best buddy's" road of continuing this war, putting corporations first and foremost, grow the deficit (if that is even possible), take a woman's right to choose off the table, and continue with every secret crooked law he could twist to immunize himself and his crew! McSame IS IN BED WITH THE WORST LOBBYISTS and today has 'no comment' about the worst one of all named Black! These lobbyists WRITE the LAWS for our senators and representatives - is this really what you want? I want more than this BS; I want my country to consider me and all other Americans FIRST before they write our laws, appoint supreme court justices and sending our children to war! WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT? STOP BEING CHILDREN!

Posted by: FedUpinVA | May 20, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

" . . . as president, I will not passively await the day when the Cuban people enjoy the blessings of freedom and democracy," McCain said . . "

BOY OH BOY - THAT STRATEGY HAS REALLY WORKED WELL FOR THE PAST 50 YEARS! WAY TO GO MCSAMEBUSH!

Posted by: MadasHell | May 20, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

free trade agreement with "Columbia"? Which Columbia is this reporter writing about, British Columbia or the District of Columbia? Perhaps the Post should not send someone to do a foreign policy story who doesn't even know the names of foreign countries!

Posted by: eo mcmars | May 20, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

This is exactly why McCain should stay in the senate. The America/Cuba policy has been a failure for over 40 yrs. Yet still the fossils with their fossilized minds want to continue to hold fast to these failed policies. That is just absurd. If after 40 yrs it hasn't dawned on him the time has come to move in a different direction, he is not the leader this country needs at this time in its history. He sounds just like Bush.

Posted by: tydicea | May 20, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

One of Obama's most important mentors is James Cone, who believes merging Marxism with the Gospel will liberate African-Americans from the supposed economic slavery of "white" capitalism. "Together," he says, "black religion and Marxist philosophy may show us the way to build a completely new society."

Cone is also the mentor of Obama's mentor, Wright. Wright adopted Cone's "black liberation theology" as his church's core doctrine. According to Cone, the reverend "is really the one who took it from my books and brought it to the church."

Cone's books are required reading at Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, where Obama has worshiped for the past 20 years. Trinity instituted the theology and its attendant "black value system" a full decade before Obama formally pledged membership in 1991.

Cone describes black liberation theology as "a faith that does justice," a concept embraced by Obama, who's even argued that "racial justice" cannot be achieved without "economic justice."

According to the theology, divine justice will come when black Jesus (Obama's church believes Christ was black) grants African-Americans the power to permanently destroy "white greed" and white institutions and replace them with their own "black value system."

Cone writes that "black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy" and all its institutions.

Trinity demands its members pledge allegiance instead to "black institutions" and "black leadership," and patronize black-only businesses. Obama himself has said America's institutions are "broken" and need to be "fixed."

And Obama in his first book defended black liberation theology as sensible, and has even called his tutelage under Wright "the best education I ever had."

These days Obama has another term for his Afrocentric theology: the "social gospel." "Rev. Wright's sermons spoke directly to the social gospel," he has said, "and I found that very attractive."

Wright says his sermons are inspired by Cone's books, the contents of which should repulse every patriotic American, white or black. "To be black is to be committed to destroying everything this country loves and adores," Cone writes.

Wright also condemned as "terrorism" the U.S. invasion of Grenada to oust a budding militant Marxist regime. "We bombed Grenada and killed innocent civilians, babies," Wright claimed.

Does Obama intend to carry on that tradition of appeasing socialist despots in our hemisphere, starting with Raul Castro and Hugo Chavez? Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega will no doubt also find support. The Marxist thug has already endorsed Obama's campaign as "revolutionary."

While Obama has refused to wear a flag pin or stand with respect during the national anthem, he certainly doesn't look or speak the part of an angry anti-American race revolutionist. But appearances may be deceiving. His positions often align with black liberation theology.

"I don't see anything in (Obama's) books or in the (Philadelphia race) speech that contradicts black liberation theology," Cone recently remarked. Obama has just sanded over the "radical edge to it," he said.

"If you're black, it's hard to say what you truly think and not upset white people," Cone said.

Obama has learned a trick, however, to put them at ease: "smile" and act "well mannered." And don't "seem angry" or make any "sudden moves," as he shared in his first book, "Dreams From My Father."

Also, talk about "hope" without saying what exactly it is you're hoping for. Tellingly, Cone writes a good deal about "hope theology" -- which "places the Marxist emphasis on action and change in the Christian context (and) is compatible with black theology's concerns."

Likewise, Obama has suggested he'd use his faith as "an active, palpable agent in the world," and a source of "hope" in overcoming "economic injustice."

"I still believe in the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change," Obama said in a 2006 speech to the Washington-based socialist group, Call to Renewal.

n his 1969 book, "Black Theology and Black Power," which Trinity uses as a second bible, Cone said: "When we look at what whiteness has done to the minds of men in this country, we can see clearly what the New Testament meant when it spoke of the principalities and powers."

Here's Obama, in his 2006 "Call to Renewal" speech: "The black church understands in an intimate way the biblical call to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, and challenge powers and principalities."

When Obama marched on Washington with Farrakhan last decade, he said blacks turn to "black nationalism whenever we have a sense, as we do now, that white Americans couldn't care less about the profound problems African-Americans are facing."

He added they have to be smart about how they protest and go about reforming the system. "Cursing out white folks is not going to get the job done," he said. "We've got some hard nuts-and-bolts organizing and planning to do."

Rated the most liberal member in the Senate, Obama wants to soak the most productive members of society and subsidize those who are not. He wants to hit small businesses and big corporations alike with major tax hikes -- singling out for special rebuke oil producers and "Wall Street predators" who have "tricked" blacks out of their homes. At the same time, he plans to expand the welfare state with massive increases in domestic spending.

"We have more work to do," he told black graduates at Howard University last September. "It's time to seek a new dawn of justice in America. . . . We can right wrongs we see in America."

Cone says he wants to see a "new system" in America "in which people have the distribution of wealth." He adds, "I don't know how quite to do that institutionally."

Enter a Harvard-educated lawyer and Southside Chicago-trained community organizer who has a real shot at institutional power. As Obama promised black graduates at Hampton University last June, "We're going to usher in a new America."

Sounds like a Trojan horse. Will traditional America let it in?

Posted by: Ben Nevis | May 20, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

One who can not learn from his mistakes is stupid. One who insists on steadfastly repeating failed behavior is insane.
John McCain is insane.
Our Cuban policy is the worse example of America's failed foreign policy. Our Cuba policy has single handedly kept Castro in power long that any other communist dictator in world history. It have also flooded our shores with criminal aliens. We can no long afford to follow these failed policies. To do so would mean we are just as insane as John McCain.

Posted by: DWayne | May 20, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

McBush is obviously pandering to the Florida Cubans, who's minds are closed on the subject, but someone should ask the question "What has our hard line treatment of Cuba accomplished?" Is it possible that what we've done is actually counterproductive to bringing about change in Cuba?

Posted by: Javalation | May 20, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

so McCain would follow the Bush policy on Cuba; that's worked real well so far

Posted by: cuba libre | May 20, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

As an African-America, I can say that my problem with Obama is that he is not black enough.

Posted by: J'Quavius | May 20, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

A further aside. "Jon" suggests that African Americans who vote GOP are voting against their interests. Oh really? And just what are those "interests"? Several decades ago Democrat Party strategists determined that the way to suppress and control African American voters was to make them dependent upon the government. "Welfare" was used to addict African American families the same way a dope pusher hooks new customers with freebies. Democrats have since used their standard tactics of "class hatred", "envy" and scare tactics to coerce black voters and "keep the darkies on the plantation". Oddly enough, the most radical Rev. Wright and Mr. Farrakahn agree with conservatives on this point. Under Democrat party policies, black voters have done nothing more than replace one white "massah" with another one. 44 years after the "Great Society" of LBJ, blacks are still poor and still victims of institutional racism. As for the GOP, their sin has been to treat African Americans like full-blown ADULTS, able to decide for themselves, able to work and able to vote. Adults with RESPONSIBILITIES as well as rights. That, however, is a terrible thing to people like Jon (who consider African Americans sub-human "chilluns" who cannot survive without a benign white "massah" to feed, house and medicate them). Interestingly, on the April 27, 2008 "Meet the Press" show, Democrap Chairman Howard Dean , when asked to predict black voting patterns next November, said that he, as the father of two CHILDREN, no longer predicts what children will do. THAT is the Democrat attitude. So what is in the best interests of African Americans? I submit their best interests lie with elected officials who will provide them with the opportunity to succeed in business and break out of the dependency cycle. As I said before, it will be tough, but lean freedom is better than fat slavery.

Posted by: marc christophe | May 20, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

The republicans are so slick the only reason why Cubans and other spanish desendents vote republican because they came up with the BS policies back in the 80's the brought all of the Cubans here in the first place... DO we remember the BAY OF PIGS for example....?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 20, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with MR DC - there is a civil war going on in this country and at some point there is going to be a great divide among US citizens either by class, race or some other distinction.

Posted by: Al in NJ | May 20, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I just moved from Miami and the problem is these Cubans come over here and think that they can take over. Everywhere u go in Miami besides the North Miami and Liberty City is catered to this ethinic group. Half the people that are in this country are in this country as a result of breaking the civil laws in Cuba. What about Haiti? Theirs a Civil War going on in there country and if the land on American Soil they get turned back around. Now i dont agree that living under a dictatorship is cool but they have free health care, paid schooling from high school and everyone is on the same accord.... If u you do research you will find that the Cubans are pretty well taken care of, here in the states and back home in their countries...CAN ANYBODY PLEASE TELL ME WHAT ABOUT THE HAITIANS?

Posted by: MR DC | May 20, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Cindy McCain looks like Norman's mother in Psycho!

Posted by: Jeffrey Tate | May 20, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Marc - take your name calling back to the third grade.

Posted by: nancy delouise | May 20, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

If people don't make more than $200k annually, there is absolutely no reason to vote GOP.

All the other GOP talking points like abortion and family values - bs.

They have been in power for 20 of the last 30 years and done nothing in those areas.

Posted by: Steven Zanders, ID | May 20, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

"Fed-Up" says he is a hard-working American who wants a change from the old politics, but then encourages us to "vote Democratic". Fed-Up is in his current situation because of his own failure to read the Constitution and educate himself. he wants "change" but what would he "change?" The soviet/Democrats would abolish the First and Second Amendments to the Constitution and would create an abusive and insensitive "hand-out bureaucracy" that would reek of the failures of socialism in Eastern Europe and their beloved Soviet Union. While the simple-minded may yearn for nanny government, free Americans do not. "Politics" (the old way) consists of dishonest Democrats promising hand-outs to winos and parasites in exchange for votes while the GOP takes the unpopular tack of supporting basic constitutional freedoms. Those who bray for "change" need to understand that it is not easy to be free, but lean freedom is always preferable to fat slavery. Maybe "Fed-Up" needs to stop whining and look at his life to see what he is doing wrong. There is no excuse for failure other than lack of effort or, in some cases, misdirected effort. Fed Up is a hard worker, but is he working "smart"? Again, the answer lies in personal effort, not some pandering political opportunist like Obama.

Posted by: marc christophe | May 20, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

No one is more irrelevant than a Republican like McCain.

Posted by: David O'Grath | May 20, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

The most fascinating thing about this election, will be to see if the American People are beginning to *get it,* or they'll continue to vote against their own interests, by electing the GOP.
As always, judging by McCain's comments, he has nothing to sell, other than the usual divisive GOP game-plan. If the media ever begins to focus on issues, McCain will be toast... but that's a big IF...

Posted by: jon | May 20, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

McCain - again having to correct himself on the facts.

Usual answer is to 'launch an investigation' which means absolutely nothing.

I have never seem so much blue hair in my life then in Florida.

WTF

Posted by: JakeD | May 20, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Is that the best anti-McCain people can do is to call him names?

How about a real debate on Cuba? You know... disagree with his policy stances if that is what you believe. Mocking McCain is crude and irrelevant.

Posted by: Nickberry | May 20, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Once upon a time their was a young charismatic orator who wooed huge crowds with his rhetoric about change & who also happened to believe that religion is the opium of the masses. Obama will have a very hard time with even the Cuban old timers whom are registered Democrats. I know them well-they are family-and they have only one word to describe him and his supporters: Communist!

Posted by: Elena Towers | May 20, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

McCain, before you start attacking Obama first come clean on Cindy McCain's tax returns from 2000 to 2007, get rid of all those lobbyists running your campaign, and release your medical records!!!!!!

Posted by: AJ | May 20, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

President Carter supported and gave us the gift of Cubans (Bost Lift), anyway we can send them back?

Posted by: Luke | May 20, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

The more I read these postings, is the more I realize how far behind our country really is. How can we want Democracy for the world and we can't get it right here in the US? This is 2008 and we still live in a racist country. I really thought we were beyond judging people by their gender or race but I see that no matter how much education and money we have, we are still ignorant. The people have voted for who they want but because it's not WHO you want, they are willing to vote for another 4 years of Bush. Do you know how foolish that sounds? You sound like a 3 yr old tell their mother "I don't love you no more" because that child didn't get their way.

Don't you realize that the world watches our news and read our papers online? Don't you realize how stupid and ignorant we look bring up issues that will not solve the crisis that the Bush Administrate has created?

No one is perfect. The Clintons have skeletons in the closest but Obama, McCain and everyone in this world has them too. Who are we to judge? If we started to investigate you, God only knows what we will find. Instead of worry about non important things, our focus should be on how to unite the country (Democrats and Republicans) as a whole and figure out how we are going to clean up mess that will be left behind.

I am just a fed up hard working American who wants change from old politics. I want a government that has the American people at heart not their personal bank account. I want a President that is going to help the ALL people -red, yellow, black and white with this mortgage crisis, create jobs, provide every kids with a great education, provide healthcare not bailing out Bear Sterns. I want a President that will figure out a way to get our Troops home and provide them with the help they are going to need mentally, physically and financially to get their life in order.

The world used to view America as this wonderful utopia, now thanks to Bush; we are the laughing stock of the world. LET SHOW THE WORLD THAT AMERICA IS STILL THE BEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD.

Vote for who will make this country better, VOTE DEMOCRAT!!!!

Posted by: FED-UP! | May 20, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Have you been watching Mccain lately, what is with the face and mannerisms? He looks like he is channeling Adolph Hitler now. Mt German mother-in-law was the first to mention it to me and she is right. He has a stage presents that is awful almost scary/craze looking. This guy is one insane looking dude.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 20, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

I am in Florida, Cubans were laughing at him. They are a very smart people

Posted by: Anonymous | May 20, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I saw McCain pandering and bloviating to a bunch of reactionary old Cubans more interested in dreaming of their Plantations lost when Castro seized power than recognizing the reality of the situation; 50 years of embargo has done squat to bring democracy to Cuba, in fact, it has hurt American Farmers who have lost a potentially lucrative market for their commodities.

Not to mention that the embargo has probably empowered Castro not weakened him. Meanwhile Flip-Flop McBush is able yet again to avoid that pesky "problem" of discussing the faltering economy under a President whose agenda the old guy voted for 95% of the time.

I also noted that McCain mentioned Clinton this time..juxtaposing her views with Obama against his, I assume he added her to his speech because the Republican talking points still gleefully point to the in-fighting among Democrats as their best smoke-screen to protecting McCoot against having to discuss the "real" Domestic issues such as the War, the faltering economy, etc. Exactly WHAT does some family living in a trailer somewhere care about our policy vis a vis Cuba?

Posted by: Hold_That_Tiger | May 20, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

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