U.S. News & World Report
As President Donald Trump weighs rolling back some of the Cuba normalization policiesbegun during the Obama administration, a new poll finds a majority of Republicans would oppose such a move.
The president is expected to speak about Cuba on Friday.
"Two thirds of Republicans support relaxing Cuba trade embargo, while only 19 percent oppose," a survey released by Morning Consult on Monday found.
But James Williams of Engage Cuba told U.S. News he's "extremely concerned" about a substantial change in policy, including a possible move by Trump to limit U.S. travel to the country to once per person per year, including for Cuban-Americans.
The president was one of the Republican candidates most open to Cuba normalization policies during the primary campaign. But he pivoted to being hostile toward the policy shift by the general election campaign, in a possible bid to win Florida.
The businessman-turned-president is "instinctually pro-engagement," Williams says, but political machinations, Williams alleges, are likely forcing his hand.
"I think this is Washington backroom politics at its worst," Williams told U.S. News. "The rumors are this is all Washington, backroom horse trading with Congressman [Mario] Diaz-Balart and Senator [Marco] Rubio over other items. With Congressman Diaz-Balart, he traded his vote on health care reform for commitment by the president on Cuba. And there's a lot of consternation over Senator Rubio and his role on the Russian intelligence investigation. Obviously he's an extremely important player in that."
Diaz-Balart fiercely objected to the characterization in a statement to U.S. News.
"The implication that there was an assurance by the White House is factually incorrect, so much so the New York Times issued a correction," on a Mar. 21 article to that effect, Diaz-Balart said. "That being said, I will reiterate that I will never waste an opportunity to fight for the interests of our community and our country."
Rubio’s office pointed U.S. News to tweets the senator wrote responding to a Miami Herald columnist floating similar accusations.
On Trump’s upcoming speech, Rubio's office issued a statement to U.S. News.
"I am confident the president will keep his commitment on Cuba policy by making changes that are targeted and strategic and which advance the Cuban people's aspirations for economic and political liberty," the statement said.