Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) has opened a new line of attack on Senator Rand Paul’s foreign-policy principles. Where many Republicans have blasted the Kentucky tea partier as an isolationist, Rubio is tying him to President Obama.
“Rand Paul has, if he wants to align himself and become a supporter of the Obama foreign policy, particularly towards Cuba, that’s his right,” Rubio said on Meet the Press when asked about Paul’s very public disagreement with him. “My interest here is singular. And that is freedom and democracy for the people of Cuba. I want people in Cuba to have what people in the Bahamas have, what people in Jamaica have, what people in the Dominican Republic have, which is freedom and elections. And I just don’t think that this policy that the president has put in place furthers that goal.”
Rubio’s comments are the latest in an exchange that began when the Florida Republican was asked what he thinks of Paul’s support for Obama’s decision to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba.
“He doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” Rubio said Thursday.
Paul punched back on Friday. “If the embargo doesn’t hurt Cuba, why do you want to keep it?” he tweeted at Rubio, whom he described as “acting like an isolationist who wants to retreat to our borders and perhaps build a moat.”
Rubio also defended the embargo. “American companies in Cuba had their assets seized. And so, in order to prevent that, that was the reason why the embargo was put in place,” he said. “The new purpose of the embargo in the 21st century was to serve as leverage, and leverage towards democracy. We now have sanctions in place with the embargo that allows us to remove those sanctions. And it’s codified in exchange for a democratic opening. What the president has done here is given away much of that leverage in exchange for zero democratic opening.”