Wednesday, April 28, 2004

US: Kerry's pequeño Cuban Problem
How the Democratic nominee is punching the wrong chad in Florida.

John Kerry looks terrified when he talks about Florida—and not without cause. The state remains firmly in the hands of a Republican governor who happens to be the president's brother, an autocratic Republican legislature, and a new secretary of state who may prove more partisan than Katharine Harris.

But what Kerry should be most worried about is the Cuban vote. If he handles his Florida campaign right, Kerry could win a much larger share of this exile constituency than the paltry 18 percent Gore won in 2000 and do as well as Clinton's 39 percent, which would make victory in the state likely. But if he keeps going the way he has been, Kerry will get fewer Cuban votes even than Gore did and in all likelihood lose the state.

Kerry's approach so far has been pandering to hard-line Cuban exiles—ineptly. In March, Kerry told a Miami TV reporter that he had voted for Helms-Burton, the 1996 legislation that further tightened the U.S. embargo on Cuba. In fact, he had voted against it. True, as he would later point out, he voted for its conference version, but that's not the same thing. In fact, Kerry had excellent reasons for not voting for the final version—it slapped on the controversial provision allowing for lawsuits against Cuba to proceed in U.S. courts, which puts the United States at odds with the world and, in fact, has never been enforced by George Bush. But instead of arguing his position, Kerry dissembled and created a video loop that has run continuously on Miami television.

h/t Andrew Sullivan

The money quote:
"The Cuban connection to the Republican Party has hung mainly on one issue: support for a non-engagement policy with Cuba going back to Eisenhower. But there is also a lingering bitterness at Democrats over President Kennedy's refusal to provide air cover during the Bay of Pigs invasion."

Indeed!
It seems that Cuban exiles aren't particularly happy about Democrats delivering their country into the hands of a communist Dictator.

Read the rest.
There are some good examples of Kerry's waffle breakfast habit in Florida.

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