When it comes to America’s icy relationship with Cuba, all signs are pointing to a thaw. The Obama administration seems hellbent on accelerating the reunion many have speculated would follow the death of the Castros (apparently they’re both still alive).
Just this week, secretary of state John Kerry hoisted the stars and stripes over Havana for the first time in over 60 years, signalling the first step in the ‘normalisation of diplomatic relations’.
Given the scandals surrounding Hillary’s email server and the ongoing Trump show, this historic event has perhaps not been given the media attention you would think.
But despite being overshadowed in the cycle, two recent media-blitzers are unlikely to have missed the news: Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.
Rubio and Cruz. Source: Breitbart
In my not-so-humble opinion, these are the two presidential contenders that made the most strides in last week’s Fox GOP debate in Cleveland.
Sure, Trump managed – predictably – to steal the headlines, and pundits have suggested the stock has risen for fellow non-politicians Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson (and I agree).
But of the truly plausible contenders for the nomination (i.e. those palatable to the Republican Establishment that will ultimately decide the party’s candidate) the two Cuban-Americans and longtime Castro critics stood out.
A handsome, smooth-talking Floridian, Marco Rubio has what it takes to win elections in the modern game. While he is a traditional ‘Reagan conservative’ – tough on crime and sceptical of government – he is the candidate that is most like Obama (in a good way).
He has charisma in bucketloads, a positive message and the potential to reach out to non-traditional Republicans, including the youth vote that had such impact in 2008’s ‘hope and change’ campaign. One old school DC operative I spoke to described him as “lightning in a can”.
Compared with Trump’s divisive and ugly description of Mexicans as rapists and thugs, Rubio’s immigrant story and seemingly genuine intention to ‘give back to America’ is refreshing and reeks of authenticity – a priceless attribute in a politician (despite so many of them having tried to buy it).
He is even an NWA fan, which could potentially warm him to some Democrats and independents, though is hardly a plus with the Republican base. It makes me like him more anyway.
Cruz is the Rubio for those that criticise Rubio as too inexperienced, too Obama-like, even too liberal (despite the latter’s opposition to abortion even in the cases of rape and incest).
While he has a similar ethnic background, Cruz invokes his father’s staunch Christianity – he was a Baptist preacher – more than his Cuban roots. Cruz is hoping he can muster enough Tea Party support and disaffected Trump fans (once The Donald’s momentum inevitably collapses) to ride into the nomination. In the debate the other night, the former Texas solicitor-general showed he has the eloquence and crowd-raising skills to potentially get it done.
With the unpopular nuclear deal with Iran in the backdrop and the word ‘appeasement’ being thrown around, the normalisation of Cuban relations is sure to rear its head more prominently in the campaign as time goes on.
If their debate performance is anything to go by, the raising of the US flag on Cuban soil may just be the beginning of a new era between the two neighbours, and one of the island’s sons may be headed for the Oval Office.
Source: Associated Press
This article was published on 16 August 2015