While Florida Democrats fret that President Joe Biden should visit South Florida and give a speech in solidarity with the protesting Cuban people, prominent Trump supporters and Republicans in the state want their leader, former-President Donald Trump , to beat him to it.
Roger Stone, the controversial convicted-then-pardoned former Trump advisor, told Newsweek that one of the main reasons Trump carried Florida in November is because Cuban and Venezuelan voters outperformed Puerto Ricans by almost 20% in terms of turnout.
“Cuban Americans are a very key constituency for the America First coalition,” he said, “and the president would be wise to visit Miami and speak out more on the brave resistance of the Cuban people.”
And Stone is not alone in his belief that Trump should speak in Miami, an appearance which would represent a shocking departure from the norm of U.S. presidential politics and send shockwaves all the way from Cuba 1,100 miles north over Miami to the White House.
At a July 17 protest at the Miami Freedom Tower where participants could be head yelling in Spanish, “If Cuba is in the streets, Miami is as well,” one of the chants related to Biden’s perceived passivity on Cuba and the belief that Trump would do better.
“¡Si Biden no puede, vamos a llamar a Trump!,” could be heard ringing through the protest, which means “If Biden can’t, we’re going to call Trump.”
Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington told Newsweek there has been interest from supporters who would like Trump to come down and give a big Miami speech on Cuba, but she would not say more on the record.
“I would absolutely love to see President Trump speak about Cuba,” former Miami Republican Party chair Nelson Diaz told Newsweek . “President Trump carries credibility in the fight against socialism.”
In an interview with Telemundo on Wednesday, Trump said he was “proud” of the people of Cuba.
“The protests in Miami and all over Florida and other places have been incredibly inspiring,” he said. “We’re with the people of Cuba, as you know.”
Turning to the White House, he said Biden is “from a different planet” and “doesn’t understand the plight of the people of Cuba,” before pivoting to how well he did with Cuban-Americans in Florida in the election.
Responding to a question about Cubans wanting “intervention,” the former president said it “would be on the table” if he was in charge, before later clarifying “I don’t think we would have needed a military intervention.”
Biden last week imposed new sanctions on Cuban leaders and his administration announced efforts to help increase internet access in Cuba.
Ana Navarro, the CNN commentator and former Republican who served as a Biden surrogate in 2020, told Newsweek that when it comes to Cuba policy some things have substance and others are for show. Trump speaking, she said, would firmly be the latter.
“The guy is basically an amateur golfer based out of Mar-a-Lago, he can speak and he can get big crowds but it’s going to have about as much effect as the ghost of Ronald Reagan speaking,” she said. “I think exploiting the Cuba issue for political purposes, like Sean Hannity at Versailles in Miami, does nothing to help the Cuban people.”
Still, Florida Democrats not only expressed misgivings about the White House refusing so far to entertain a South Florida speech by the president, but also worry about the chilling political effect if Trump beats him to the punch.
Fernand Amandi, a former Obama pollster on the Hispanic vote, told Newsweek what is most surprising is that Trump hasn’t already jumped at the chance to do a big Miami speech.
He warned the White House of the consequences if Trump speaks first.
“The problem for them is the moment Trump does, it’s too late for Biden,” Amandi said, calling it a “first-mover advantage.”
“There are still political rewards to be seen for the president that presides over the long hoped for liberation of Cuba from the dictatorship,” he said, ‘but it’s an opportunity that will be lost if Trump steps up before the president.”
However, not all Republicans agree that this is a slam dunk for Trump.
One former 2020 Trump campaign staffer told Newsweek it “would be best to avoid injecting U.S. politics into this issue.”
“The dissidents are getting a ton more attention than they have in decades, we have to keep the focus on them,” the source said. “Big national political figures parachuting in takes the focus off of what’s happening.”
Trump’s Telemundo interview was in some ways a preview of the topics he might hit in one of his trademark rallies if he does decide to speak. It didn’t take him long to dive into 2024 speculation and the chances of him running for re-election during the interview, as well as to once again relitigate his 2020 loss.
“We’re watching it very closely,” he said of running again.
“I love the people of Cuba, I love the people of Venezuela, I don’t want to see oppression, I want to have their liberties and their freedoms back,” Trump added, before turning back to baseless election grievances. “The election was not a fair election, it wasn’t a free election. Frankly, we’re talking about free elections in Cuba, but we can’t do them in this country.”
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