Washington (CNN) - Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist announced Friday his support for lifting the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, a policy shift that shows how far the former Republican has moved since switching parties.
"The embargo has done nothing in more than 50 years to change the regime in Cuba," Crist said in a statement. "If we want to bring democracy to Cuba, we need to encourage American values and investment there."
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Crist, who served as Florida’s Republican governor from 2007 to 2011, is running for his old job again, this time as a Democrat. He initially announced his support for the change in policy on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher."
When asked by Maher about the influential Cuban bloc of voters, most of whom have historically opposed restoring normalcy with the country’s regime, Crist denounced the trade embargo as an ineffective relic.
"I don't think it worked," Crist said. "It is obvious we need to move forward and get the embargo taken away."
Crist said lifting the 52-year-old embargo would be a boon for his state.
"As a Floridian, I'd like to see that happen because a lot of construction would be required on the island, and South Florida could be the launching pad for all of that and really create a lot of jobs," he said.
Crist's statements are a complete reversal of his previous position. At a 2010 editorial board meeting with the Sun-Sentinel newspaper, Crist, then running for the U.S. Senate, said he not only opposed removing the trade embargo, but he also was against loosening travel restrictions to Cuba.
He said he wouldn’t support travel between the countries “until they offer more freedoms to their people and demonstrate that they're serious about it."
President Barack Obama eased travel restrictions to the island nation in January 2011, but federal action on U.S.-Cuba trade policy is viewed as a nonstarter in Congress.
In a statement Saturday, Crist's opponent in this year's gubernatorial race, incumbent Rick Scott, called his rival's comments "insulting."
"The suggestion that Cuban Americans need to be 'stood up to' is insulting," the statement said.
"Our nation is great because we were built on a foundation of freedom and democracy. That is not true in Cuba and we should not pretend it is. The importance of maintaining the embargo is that it stands for the Cuban people's right to be free," he said.
Makes too much sense, so I am sure the GOP is against it.
Wow, you might as well have said, "end the ban on gay marriage" to the Conclave in the Vatican.
Crist just blew 50% of the Hispanic vote. It's over.
He's pandering to the Cuban population in FL.
The Cuban trade and travel embargo has been a low point in American Diplomacy for most of its duration. It might have made sense initially, but after a few years we should have looked for a more workable solution.
We trade with communist countries that have human rights violations equal to or worse than Cuba. Our own country has many shortcomings in the matter of human rights.
Congratulations to Crist for making what is a bold statement for a Florida politician. i wish that more of our 'leaders' would take a stand for changes leading to more liberty for Americans.
Obama will before he leaves office !
It's about time we end the embargo .
Israel and China has some of the largest agricultural joint ventures in Cuba , yet we as Americans cant compete .
The Cuban people are not are enemy , and politicians such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio who maintain there power with the help of contributions from those who profit off the existing embargo .
Time to change this diplomatic failure that has not worked in the last thirty years.
It does not make sense why there is still an embargo. Cuba probably would be democatic already if there was not an embargo.
makes sense to everyone except repos. Must be liberating for Crist to tell it like it really is instead of having to spout those old antiquated repo ideas. Good lick
Looking at how screwed up America is under King Obama and the socialist Dems, why would they want "American values"? Obama has worked non stop to destroy America and all it stands for and made us a laughing stock of the rest of the world.
Actually tourists from all over the world don't want the US-Cuba relationship to change. Cuba is a beautiful vacation spot with friendly people and lovely beaches and resorts. If Americans are allowed to go there, they will overrun it and spoil it for the others who have been going there for years.
He is so right, the embargo is dark age mess, how do we trade with China, Saudis and many others, and not Cuba
We are the only nation to so deny access to Cuba, and to embargo their economy. Clearly both nations can benefit from trade and travel. Like several above have mentioned- you can bet the GOP will block such an effort.
I would feel more comfortable with easing the restrictions if there was some greater level of democratic reforms and open elections.
Charlie Crist is a nut!
Last time I looked China didn't have democracy. But I guess the Democrats haven't noticed. Besides, even if democracy is the issue, it seems that the convoluted thinking of the Liberals would see the wondrous steps that Cuba has made in its propped up Socialism. The majority get to keep their mouths shut, or else, and share in the Equality of Poverty!
"Crist's statements are a complete reversal of his previous position." Get ready for a lot more of that. Crist was always pandering to some group or other when he was our Governor. He ran claiming to be a great follower of Jeb Bush's policies since Bush had been a popular governor here. Then when elected he immediately turned on Bush's policies. He had no position he wouldn't gladly stop and reverse based on polling data. He destroyed private insurance in the state and left us with a State run "Citizens Insurance" program that was so underfunded we were one big hurricane away from insolvency. This clown will say anything, but he can't be trusted to do it once elected.
The Guns Over People tea potty wingnuts kicked Christ and Lugar out. Can't wait to see the GOBP stuff Jeb Bush down the tea potty's throats 2012 Mitt the twit style.
Charlie "I've always been tanner than Boehner" Crist is a man of swaying, shifting, and swinging policies, poses, and postures. You Democraticans are welcome to this man of limited to no values. Take him, he's yours.
Crist is a flip-flopper, but hero right. The trade embargo on Cuba is ineffective and antiquated. Lifting it would be LONG overdue.
Things are getting clear. Charlie Christ, the best governor of Florida in the last twenty years, who has worked with Republicans and Democrats is for ending the U.S embargo on Cuba. Rick Scott who is responsible for massive fraud against Medicare is for it. I didn't know about the embargo but now I know which position to support.