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Will Romney Take Ryan’s Advice on Cuba?

Mitt Romney decided on Paul Ryan as his VP selection to shake up his campaign that still can’t gain traction in the polls. Many Republicans from Florida had been praying for Romney to select Florida Senator Marco Rubio, but there are very good reasons — disclosed by polling — Romney decided against him.

When Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan visit Miami today, the smartest thing they could do to put Obama on his heels in Florida is to come out against the Cuba embargo; a position that Ryan has repeatedly endorsed.

What’s the reasoning? Romney has Miami Cuban Americans in the bag. He gains nothing repeating the rote, thread-worn support for the Cuba embargo for a voting bloc that will not split for Obama.

The embargo is a legacy litmus test only in Miami, increasingly to an aged and elderly segment of the vote. In truth, the embargo is being broken every single day to benefit Cuban American families and their relatives on both sides of the Florida Straits. The better place for Romney’s press conference tomorrow is not a Cuban restaurant, Palacios de los Jugos, but the long lines for the morning flights to Havana inside Miami International Airport.

Coming to a Cuban American restaurant in Miami is like checking a box in South Florida. The real contest in November is for independents and non-Cuban Hispanics. With the race inevitably tighter than a snare drum, the outcome will depend on swing voters and Hispanics who view the Miami obsession with Castro as penalizing both sides of the divide.

Romney and Ryan can win Florida with an anti-embargo platform because both groups of crucial voters — independents and non-Cuban Hispanics — view the embargo with resentment.

If Romney comes out against the embargo  there would be a rainbow effect with large non Cuban Hispanics in crucial electoral states in the west.

The expression, “when the people lead, the leaders will follow”, applies. On Cuba, the people are leading every day.

The key to Romney’s campaign will not be in attendance at the press event scheduled for tomorrow at Palacios de Los Jugos. That crowd knows the embargo is principally a policy tool enforcing political orthodoxy in Miami-Dade. But its logic has petered out. If Mitt Romney wants an immediate impact, he will follow Paul Ryan’s advice: drop the Cuba embargo.

ALAN FARAGO, conservation chair of Friends of the Everglades, lives in south Florida. He can be reached at: afarago@bellsouth.net

 

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Alan Farago is president of Friends of the Everglades and can be reached at afarago@bellsouth.net

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