Politics & Policy

Greene Says Cuba Scandal a Ploy ‘Drummed Up’ by Meek

In a conference call with almost 8,000 listeners Sunday, Democratic Senate candidate Jeff Greene suggested that the scandal over his trip to Cuba is a political ploy. 

“Look, these charges, this whole thing is drummed up by Kendrick Meek,” Greene said. “I think he’s just trying to divert attention from his own corruption issues to me. So that’s what I think this is about.” 

After flip-flopping on the subject, Greene has found his story and is sticking with it. Here’s how he answered the question in today’s conference call: 

It sprung up on me in the debate. I tried to remember the details from four years ago, and I wasn’t very clear, so I’ll going to be clearer now. 

My wife and I are avid scuba divers, and at the time, my wife was just my fiancé, and we left West Palm Beach to go to Honduras, where I’d been before, to go diving on my boat. We left West Palm Beach, we stopped in Key West for a day and then that night we pulled off our anchors to go on our trip to Honduras, and out at sea, what happened was the hydraulics failed. And the captain, chief engineer, made the decision that we had to pull in to get safe harbor because hydraulics control not just the anchors going up and down, but they stabilize in the operation of the vessel. So we pulled into Hemingway Marina, which is a marina outside of Havana. We were there – we went there on a Friday night, we were waiting for parts, we were hoping to find parts to fix it, so we stayed till Monday, at which time we actually had to go — we never went to Honduras — we had to go, because we had no anchors, we went all the way to Freeport Bahamas, which was about a 30-plus hour trip at sea. We were in that shipyard doing the work for five days. 

That’s the story. You know, when I was there I was able to get out to visit some synagogues and visit with the people there … But I didn’t do any shopping, it was just, we were there just for that purpose. 

Greene also addressed his 1982 congressional run as a Republican. 

“You know, I regret it, I made a mistake, and I became a Republican for a year,” Greene said. “But I can tell you, I realized 27 years ago, that to care about ordinary people, you have to be a Democrat. It’s that simple.” 

On two issues his former conservatism may shine through. Greene supports merit pay for teachers, for example. 

“I will support merit pay and limitations on tenure eventually,” Greene said. “We want, you know, the best ones to make more money. And you get rewarded for a job well done.”

And on Iran, Greene sounded almost hawkish. 

“I think we need to have crippling sanctions against this regime. You know, the thought of them getting a nuclear weapon frightens me,” Greene said. “It would bring about the biggest nuclear arms race we’ve ever seen. I mean, can you only imagine, if they get a nuclear weapon, then Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Egypt, all these other countries will want to have nuclear weapons.” 

That said, on a whole host of other issues — from the health care reform bill, to social security, to economic stimulus — Greene is undoubtedly dark blue. And in one case in particular, he says, even more blue than his opponent. 

“If I am not the nominee, I’ve said I will support whoever the nominee is, just so we make sure and get a Democrat elected,” Greene said. “Unfortunately, Kendrick Meek, against whom I’m running has said he will not support me. So that means in the event I’m the nominee, it looks like Kendrick Meek will be supporting either Marco Rubio or Charlie Crist. So, you know, to me, who’s the true Democrat?”

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