Marco Rubio Criticizes Release of Alan Gross From Cuban Prison UPDATE
Update: In his brief presser Wednesday afternoon, Rubio told reporters that he would do everything in his power to undo President Obama's plans to thaw relations with Cuba, including opening a U.S. embassy in Havana.
"This entire policy shift announced today is based on an illusion, based on a lie," Rubio told reporters gathered on Capitol Hill. "The White House has conceded everything and gained little."
Rubio also vowed to block whoever is eventually nominated to be a U.S. ambassador to Cuba.
Original Post: On Wednesday morning, news broke that the Obama administration secured the release of American contractor Alan Gross from a Cuban prison in exchange for the release of the three of the so-called Cuban 5, a spy ring held by the U.S. for decades.
And Marco Rubio is not happy about it.
"This going to do absolutely nothing to further human rights and democracy in Cuba," Rubio told the Associated Press in commenting about the Gross release.
He also went on FoxNews to say that Obama has a history of being chummy with leaders of rouge nations. "It's absurd," he said. "And part of a long record of coddling tyrants & dictators."
Rubio also called Obama the worst negotiator since President Carter.
The prisoner exchange comes as news breaks that Obama is going to address the nation at noon about a possible thawing in relations between the United States and Cuba, particularly the lifting -- or at least the partial lifting -- of the Cuban embargo
The seismic change in Cold War relations with the island nation is framed around the release of Gross, who was arrested in Cuba in 2009 and accused of distributing technology and trying to establish a spy ring. Over the past year, reports of Gross' declining health began to surface, saying he was frail and gaunt, had lost several teeth, and was mentally frayed.
Rubio, who has made a career out of criticizing the President's methods without offering any realistic solutions of his own on how to handle certain situations, says he's happy Gross is coming home, but not so happy about how it was done.
"I'm not in favor of the process by which his release was acquired," he told FoxNews on Wednesday morning.
And on his thoughts of the potential shift in relations between the two nations, Rubio called Obama's presidency, "an administration that is constantly giving away unilateral concessions, in exchange for nothing."
Well, not nothing.
So, as Obama is scheduled to address the nation at noon to discuss the Gross release and the state of U.S.-Cuban relations, so Rubio has announced he will be holding his own press conference at 12:30.
It's something of fascinating timing for Rubio, who was knocked out of the headlines by Jeb Bush's recent announcement that he was staring an exploratory committee to pursue the presidency in 2016. Jeb has long been seen by political insiders as Rubio's biggest threat to land on the GOP ticket.
After Bush's announcement Tuesday, Rubio came out and said that his own decision to run won't be affected by Jeb's decision.
"Marco has a lot of respect for Governor Bush, and believes he would be a formidable candidate," a Rubio spokesman told the National Journal. "However, Marco's decision on whether to run for president or re-election will be based on where he can best achieve his agenda to restore the American Dream -- not on who else might be running."
Either way, there's no doubt on where Rubio stands as far as the U.S. and Cuba are concerned. And there's no doubt that today's the day he plants his flag on a very specific voting base: the old school Cold War-entrenched South Florida Cubans who hate Obama probably as much as they hate Fidel Castro.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss New Times Broward-Palm Beach's biggest stories.