Rick Scott and Republicans Pounce on Charlie Crist's Flip-Flop on Cuba Embargo

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: February 10, 2014 12:00 PM
Charlie Crist

Charlie Crist

Former Gov. Charlie Crist announced Friday night he supports ending the American embargo with communist Cuba. Republicans quickly pounced on Crist for switching his position on the issue.

Crist appeared on Bill Maher’s show on HBO on Friday night and called for ending the embargo and his campaign released a statement on his position.

“The embargo has done nothing in more than 50 years to change the regime in Cuba,” Crist said. “If we want to bring democracy to Cuba, we need to encourage American values and investment there, not block ourselves out and cede influence to China. It will take time, and we must do it in a way where American investment helps people, not the dictatorship. But the reality is that no state's economy is hurt more by America's Cuba policies than Florida. Changing these policies to allow Florida's farmers, manufacturers, and construction industry to sell goods and services in Cuba would boost Florida's economy and help businesses create more jobs in our state.”

Crist agreed with Maher’s assessment that a “small Cuban community” in South Florida had “held hostage” America’s Cuba policies. Maher said Florida politicians needed to “stand up to” the “small Cuban community” and, once again, Crist agreed. “I think they need to,” Crist told Maher.

During most of his many years as a Republican and during his bid for the U.S. Senate with no party affiliation, Crist had been a supporter of the embargo. During his debate with then-U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, D-Fla., in the 2006 gubernatorial race, Crist ripped the Democrat for visiting Cuba in 2003.

Scott and his team fired back at Crist on Saturday afternoon.

"The suggestion that Cuban-Americans need to be 'stood up to' is insulting,” Scott said. “Our Cuban community needs to be stood up for. Our nation is great because we were built on a foundation of freedom and democracy. That is not true in Cuba and we should not pretend it is. The importance of maintaining the embargo is that it stands for the Cuban people's right to be free."

Florida Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, also pushed back against Crist on Sunday. “As the son of Cuban exiles, who are the victims of the Castro regime's oppression, I am deeply offended by Charlie Crist's shameful comments,” said Garcia. “Our community has endured great pain to now have to endure Crist's disrespectful statement. Note to Crist: The U.S embargo on Castro will not be lifted until Cubans are no longer accosted in the streets of Cuba or tortured in Castro's gulag; until the day that Cubans can assemble without fear and a free press exists; and until the day that they can cast a ballot knowing that they will not be physically beaten or intimidated.

“It's an embarrassment that Crist has positioned himself on the wrong side of history at a moment when the Cuban people need the most solidarity,” Garcia added.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

Comments (6)

7:43PM FEB 11TH 2014
Crist's change in position is what is known as evidence based reasoning to alter the way things have been done before because they have not worked. My first choice is Nan Rich but Crist has proven to be a more than competent administrator and able to propose and move concensus measures. He would make a good Governor again though it will take years to ride F;orida of the stench of Republican malfeasance and only when the legislature and cabibnet are Democratic with the darkess be lifted.
9:34AM FEB 11TH 2014
Crist does not have a mind of his own and he only agrees with whoever he thinks will pad his pocket the most.. He is sick in the mind and our state does not need him.
10:53PM FEB 10TH 2014
Charlie Crist is not a person whose opinion ought to be heeded on…well, anything, but he makes a good point here. I agree with the Republican legislator that Crist's comments about Cuban-Americans are derogatory, even borderline racist (although such is what I would expect to hear on a program run by such a hateful bigot as Bill Maher). But I can't deny the fact that for all the moral outrage that it has expressed, the Cuban embargo hasn't really done much good. I'm not quite sure where I stand on this issue anymore. Both sides make very compelling arguments.
Independent Thinker
4:11PM FEB 10TH 2014
Gee, Frank, that sure sounded like Rick Scott. But seriously -- where's their answer to the point that 50 years of embargo have accomplished exactly zilch? Isn't there a phrase that says, the stupidest thing you can do is keep trying the same thing and keep failing again and again? As usual, Scott and his cronies dodge answering questions, which is why they need to be kicked out -- among other reasons.
8:37AM FEB 12TH 2014
Sorry, you got the wrong one . . . . SSN similar clone "Fran k" is just doing what the GOP is trying so hard to accomplish, cloud the issue, and hope nobody will notice how dumb you really are .

Pathetic . . .
Fran k
2:23PM FEB 10TH 2014
This guy says whatever he thinks is necessary to acquire votes for the moment. This guy is a professional politician and we should not be voting him back into office for anything.

He is a shinning example of what is wrong with our political system. We have too many of these professionals in our system already. We need statesmen/women in there doing what is best for the country and not for their own agendas.

As for Crist, this guy is PATHETIC!!!!

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