Flip-flop or flim-flam? Romney's running mate presents problems in Florida
As the US presidential election gets into full swing, there are looming problems in Florida for Republican candidate Mit Romney. His running mate, Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan (pictured), has voted against the US embargo on Cuba at least three times, a record that makes him anathema to the right-wing Cuban emigres who essentially run the politics of Miami. In 2009 Ryan said: "If we can trade with China why not Cuba?" - a fair point you might say, but not one that sits easily with the Cuban emigres. The upshot has been some arm-twisting from the Cuban hardlners and an apparent flip-flop in Ryan's position. However, Romney still feels the need to repeat the hardline on Cuba and to stretch credulity when talking about his VP candidate partner. The Republican hopeful had this to say yesterday in an interview to Miami's Radio Mambi:
"I am in favor of maintaining the embargo relative to Cuba and I support the Helms-Burton Act. Congressman Ryan has allied himself with Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Representative Diaz-Balart. They convinced him that the embargo is an important effort in order to put pressure on the Cuban government. So it's an important factor in legislation. Congressman Ryan voted "No" [on lifting sanctions] and his position is the same as mine – he wants to strengthen our policy towards the regime of Cuba."
The voters of Miami-Dade may need some convincing on that one, Mit. As for Obama, the way is clear for him to appeal to the more moderate Cubans in Florida who wish for engagement with the island and to use the Damascan conversion of Ryan to great campaigning effect. As ever Florida is going to provide some entertainment this election year.