December 10th, 2007
01:14 PM ET
7 years ago

Huckabee backtracks on Cuba embargo

MIAMI (CNN) – Campaigning in Miami Monday with powerful Cuban American leaders, Mike Huckabee made this promise:

"As president, I commit that we would veto any legislation that would lift the embargo that is currently in place, because we must keep that pressure on."

But that hard-line position on Cuba is an about-face for the former Arkansas governor.

In 2002, then-Gov. Huckabee wrote President Bush urging him to lift the embargo on Cuba, saying the U.S. position was harming agriculture and business interests, and providing Fidel Castro with a "convenient excuse for his own failed system of government."

Huckabee admits he has now had a change of heart, saying he's been educated by Cuban American leaders like Marco Rubio, the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, who endorsed his candidacy for president Monday.

"Rather than being seen as some huge change, I would call it rather the simple reality that I'm running for president of the United States, not for re-election as governor of Arkansas,” said Huckabee Monday, adding that his earlier position was intended to aid that state’s then-struggling rice farmers.

Now, said Huckabee, “I’ve got to look at this as an issue that touches the whole country, and because of the influence that the Speaker and the Hispanic community have had in helping me better understand it."

Cuban Americans are a powerful voting bloc in Florida's Republican primary January 29. Many are socially conservative, like Huckabee, but would be hard pressed to support him if he did not change his position, and oppose lifting the trade embargo with Cuba.

Sensing Huckabee’s vulnerability on the issue, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson’s campaign sent out a release titled “Huckabee: Mr. President, Lift the Cuban Embargo” late Sunday, just hours before the former governor hit the campaign trail with Cuban American leaders.

–CNN's Dana Bash


Filed under: Florida • Fred Thompson • Mike Huckabee
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    I am sitting here shaking my head in disbelief at the drivel coming out of this man's mouth.

    "...I never said we should 'quarantine' AIDS patients...we should 'isolate' them. Literary ignorance of the first order.

    "...Rather than being seen as some huge change, I would call it rather the simple reality that I'm running for president of the United States, not for re-election as governor of Arkansas,” said Huckabee Monday, adding that his earlier position was intended to aid that state’s then-struggling rice farmers.
    "Rather than being seen as some huge change, I would call it rather the simple reality that I'm running for president of the United States, not for re-election as governor of Arkansas,” said Huckabee Monday, adding that his earlier position was intended to aid that state’s then-struggling rice farmers.

    "Rather than being seen as some huge change, I would call it rather the simple reality that I'm running for president of the United States, not for re-election as governor of Arkansas,” said Huckabee Monday, adding that his earlier position was intended to aid that state’s then-struggling rice farmers.

    Now, said Huckabee, “I’ve got to look at this as an issue that touches the whole country, and because of the influence that the Speaker and the Hispanic community have had in helping me better understand it."

    Translate to mean, "I need Cuban American votes, so I'll just reverse my stance and they're too stupid to notice.

    December 10, 2007 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  2. Surrealist, Fort Myers, FL

    He is too much of a wimp to do the right thing. The embargo on Cuba has far outlived its usefulness–and created SW USA as a magnet for cubans–who don't get the same treatment as Mexicans or Haitians sneaking into the country. Lift the embargo–lift the granting of assylum to Cubans entering the country illegally. But it's clear–no Republicans or Democrats currently have shown the fortitude to go against the "Miami money-machine" of Cuban ex-patrio business consortiums.

    December 10, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Hippocrits, look at CHINA. Another example of politicians pandering to try to get votes.

    China is communist, just like Cuba.
    we fought against China in South Korea.
    China has nukes.
    China is our biggest trade partner (imports).

    But we can't have an embargo against China, so we continue the senseless embargo against Cuba because is a poor country.

    December 10, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  4. Rich, Des Moines IA

    If it's Huck...I will vote for the very first time as a Dem.

    I never thought that I would say that, but Huck is clearly incompetent. Rep's will figure that out soon enough.

    December 10, 2007 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  5. Rich, Des Moines, IA

    The one person who has constantly hit Romney's change to Pro-Life as flip flopping...

    Lets be honest shall we...neither Romney's nor this change is significant.

    Lets just look at these two guys and their quals for the post.

    Huck can lead the national prayer and lets allow Romney (the proven leader) to lead the nation.

    December 10, 2007 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  6. Josh, Chapel Hill NC

    bargaining for your constituency is what the governor is supposed to do. huckabee's explanation is legit.

    December 10, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  7. Bob, Seattle

    The embargo is close to lifting itself anyway. Castro will be gone. The next administration, possibly after revolt, will know the financial windfall awaiting the people of Cuba with renewed political direction in Cuba. Arkansas will profit. America will profit. Cuba will profit. The world will have one less Venezuela in it.

    December 10, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  8. Joe G, Washington, DC

    Huckabee is a clown! Preacher man and bigot – go back to your trailer in Arkansas!!

    December 10, 2007 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  9. Val Davydov, Agawam, MA

    What? Hah? Do I hear a flip-flop?

    The true colors of Huck are being revealed little by little: his inexperience, his soft stance on immigration, his poor judgement involving criminals, his flaws and weaknesses (no way this guy will beat any Democratic candidate in general election), and his cockiness. Huck is NOT presidential material.

    December 10, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  10. JC, Topeka, Kansas

    For what purpose must the pressure be maintained? The government that Castro overthrow was a butial, corrupt, dictatorship, but wait it was in favor I guess of the US government, let's see who fleed after Castro's takeover, members of the Basetia government and supporters, go figure. It happened 50 years ago, it is time to normalize relations with a nation 90 miles from our shore. How does one say to two nations, grow up.

    December 10, 2007 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  11. Ca Native

    Nice of Fred Thompson to pick up the mantle of "Official Mudslinger" in the GOP race. I wonder if his young granddaughter – oops I mean daughter – will be quite proud of his campaign when she grows up?

    December 10, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  12. Bob, CA

    Someone needs to tell these people that the cold war ended over 20 years ago.

    December 10, 2007 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  13. Dan, Costa Mesa CA

    Can anyone give ma valid, legitimate reason as to why we still make such an effort to maintain the trade embargo with Cuba? And why it is mostly illegal to travel to/from there?

    The embargo has not ever had the effect our government intended it to, and it remains today as one of the best examples of American ignorance in both national politics and foreign affairs.

    To all of you who respond with neo-con hate mail: how many times have you been to Cuba?

    December 10, 2007 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  14. Vicki Hampton of Hanceville Alabama

    These candidates actions are beginning to show exactly how inexperienced, underqualified and lacking they are in the foreign affairs department, as well as, taking on the responsibilities of being the President of the United States.I have and will continue to, support the only experienced, qualified candidate that is running for the Presidency and that is Senator John McCain.

    December 10, 2007 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  15. Jeff Taggart, Cody Wy.

    And He calls MITT a FLIP FLOPPER, give me a break look at the Guy's record. What we need is some other person from Ark.(sorry to all my ARK. Friends) I don't really blame you.

    December 10, 2007 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  16. Sam, Bastrop, TX

    I had been considering Huckabee, but the more I look into him, the less I like him. I would urge everyone who is attracted to him for his religous positions to really look into what he's really done. He's just another liberal in conservatives clothing, I'm afraid.

    December 10, 2007 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  17. LQ ROCHESTER MN

    He can't win Florida without that Cuban-American voting bloc so of course he changes his mind about the embargo with Cuba.
    Oh yeah, a real straight-shooter. You can trust this guy b/c he was a minister. Yeah, right.

    December 10, 2007 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  18. John Allan

    What? You mean, Huckabee is a flip-flopper? Wow! Now people can go after a real flip-flopper and leave Romney alone. Romney is the best presidential candidate this country's had in decades, hand's down. Huckabee is the flavor of the month–all bark and no bite. Besides, he's running for Pastor-in-Chief while I want a Commander-in-Chief. My vote's for Romney.

    December 10, 2007 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  19. Bill , Covington,LA

    I'm in complete agreement with Rich in Des Moines, except when it comes to voting democrat, I'll move to Austraila before I do that.

    December 10, 2007 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  20. KEITH JAMES LOUTTIT

    WOW, I thought Hillary was weak on commitment! Huck seems to be pandering to any vote he can get, but my Cubano brothers won't go for that! This is the word I got today from my good friend in Miami! Gracias mi hermano, Felix!

    December 10, 2007 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  21. Concerned Christian Republican

    After admitting ignorance of the recent Iran intellignece report, the Huckster recently joked that while he didn't know much about foreign policy, "I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night!" HE is the joke. (Apparently they don't teach history, economics or management at Bible college.) I just hope that people will wake up and realize that being a "Christian" does not qualify a man for the presidency. Check out his record on crime, spending, taxes, and immigration.

    December 10, 2007 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  22. Keegan, Carlisle, PA

    I'd rather have a candidate who has changed position on an embargo than one who has flip-flopped onabortion.
    Huckabee's flaws pale in comparison to his opponents.
    If Huckabee isn't the real deal, how do you account for his meteoric rise?
    If you ask me, it's because the party base has been waiting for a straight-shooter.

    December 10, 2007 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  23. Ricardo Gonzalez, Madison, Wisconsin

    Governor Huckabee had it right in 2002: Lift the Cuban embargo. The right wing Cubans will never support Huckabee now, but Cuban American moderates and independents may support a Republican who promises to open up Cuba, if the other choice is Hillary's more of the same failed policy.

    December 10, 2007 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  24. Steve, Lyons, CO

    Another flip-flopping worm.

    Huckabee sux.

    Why are we keeping "pressure" on a harmless, economically poor country, which nonetheless sports health statistics that beat the U.S. in, for example, # of deaths per birth.

    Maybe our big, tough government is afraid the Cuban's well-designed, no-hassle health care will creep into our Corporate Fascism that rules us.

    You're a cowardly and ignorant man, Mike Huckabee.

    December 10, 2007 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  25. Jose Card

    I just don't understand why we have to sanction on Cuba, a small communist country, and yet we kiss up to the communist China with trillions of trade deficit. They only want to buy our Hi-Technologies and recycled materials. We are buying everything Chinese.

    President Clinton signed the legislation to normalize trade with China in October, 2000. His pen opened the flood gate. Remember Norman Hsu donated almost one million dollars to Hillary's war chest?

    A politician can say whatever they want to get elected. What he or she will do after election is everyone's guess. You have to be able to trust your candidate.

    I can trust John McCain and Ron Paul the best in the Republican league.

    Huckabee is too sweet to be trusted.
    He needs to address his view on evolution vs. intelligent design. Our future competitiveness depends on our direction in science education.

    December 10, 2007 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
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