Tough talk on Cuba from Paul Ryan during visit to Florida
Miami (CNN) — During a visit to Little Havana with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan criticized President Barack Obama for engaging in a “policy of appeasement” with Cuba and vowed that a Romney-Ryan administration would be tough on Fidel Castro.
“We will not keep practicing this policy of appeasement; we will be tough on this brutal dictator. All it has done is it rewarded more despotism,” Ryan said Saturday.
During his visit to the Cuban restaurant Versailles — a must-stop for any politician hoping to reach out to Miami’s diverse Latino community — Ryan said, “We will be tough on Castro, tough on Chavez,” referring to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
The 14-year congressman from Wisconsin said he learned about Cuba policy from fellow Republican lawmakers who appeared with him in Little Havana, including Florida Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart and Lincoln Diaz-Balart.
“I learned from these friends, from Mario, from Lincoln, from Ileana, just how brutal the Castro regime is, just how this president’s policy of appeasement is not working. They’ve given me a great education, lots of us in Congress, about how we need to clamp down on the Castro regime, “Ryan said.
The biggest political heavyweight to join Ryan was Bush, Florida’s very popular former governor who did not endorse Mitt Romney until after the Florida primary and has not appeared with his party’s presidential nominee.
But Bush drank cups of Cafe Colatta with Ryan before addressing restaurant patrons in English and Spanish. Ryan’s Spanish remarks at the event were limited to the words “muchas gracias.”
“I need to teach Paul one word in Spanish,” Bush said as it was pouring rain outside. “Here we call this ‘una aguacera.’ This was just a little tropical rainstorm. This is a nice day for us, but paradise is most of the time so don’t think that Miami’s weather is like this all the time. Normally it’s perfect, and when you come back as vice president of the United States we’ll prove it to you.”
Bush praised Romney for being a “good family person.”
“Family matters a lot for all of us, and a guy can’t be that bad when he’s got a beautiful wife, great kids. He loves his family more than anybody could ever describe. That is what we need in the White House,” Bush said
As the politicians worked the room, Bush said he believed Republicans were going to carry the crucial battleground state.
“I feel good. I think Romney is going to carry Florida,” he said.
Ryan slammed an interview President Barack Obama did with Univision.
“President Obama admitted that he can’t change Washington from the inside,” he said. “Why do we send presidents to the White House in the first place?”
Ryan continued, “I mean, we send presidents to change and fix the mess in Washington. And if this president has admitted that he can’t change Washington, then you know what, we need to change presidents.”
Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Saturday that the Obama administration had “repeatedly renewed the trade regime with Cuba” and “pressured the Castro regime to give its people more say in their own future,” as well as allowed people in America to visit their family members in Cuba.
“Keeping these families apart would do nothing to weaken the Castro regime,” Psaki said. “That’s what the Romney-Ryan ticket wants to do — they need to explain to the hundreds of thousands of Cuban Americans who’ve been reunited with their families why they want to keep them apart.”