May 20th, 2008
03:13 PM ET

McCain, Obama and the Cuban-American vote

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/20/art.mccain.jpg]
Leslie Sanchez
GOP Strategist and AC360° Contributor

Today in Miami, Sen. John McCain criticized Sen. Barack Obama's flip-flopping on the Cuban embargo and his voting record on limiting broadcasting to the island. McCain's message of a strong and resolute America that stands for something resonates with the Cuban-American community; Senator Obama's expressed intent to meet with rogue leaders such as Fidel and Raul Castro without preconditions does not.

As Cubans mark their independence, it is important to recognize the significance and contributions Cuban-Americans have made to the political processes of both countries. Many Cubans continue to speak out against their government despite the continuing risk of doing so; they have been a vibrant culture and have long been reliable Republicans.

A major contribution to Sen. John McCain's January victory in Florida was a result of his overhwhelming support from Hispanics, specifically Cuban-Americans. According to the New York Times, McCain led his nearest rival, Rudy Giuliani, by 30 points among Hispanics and also carried the Cuban-American demographic.

This pivotal primary propelled the Arizona senator into the Super Tuesday races and helped him secure the Republican nomination for president. Just by participating in the democratic process, Cuban-Americans are sending a clear message to the world: they support and value freedom.

It is this yearning for liberty and transparency that speak loudly of Cubans' intrinsic spirit. The same determination that brought about their independence will continue to resonate wherever it is allowed to express itself.


Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Leslie Sanchez • Raw Politics
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. john gibbs

    The main thing to figure out about Barrack Obama after stating he'll meet happily with leaders of Iran and Cuba is that either he considers those as worthy partners to have a discussion with, or that Barrack's agenda requires him to paint those dictators as worthy political partners. Either way, I think Obama's statement may cost him in November. Clinton or McCain have better judgment in foreign policy matters, Obama's position is too close to George Soros'.

    May 21, 2008 at 1:04 am |
  2. ginger


    I agree with you.

    May 21, 2008 at 12:28 am |
  3. Tyone

    Obama continues to show his very good judgement on matters of substance, especially on foreign policy. Nice judgement on Iran, Obama. We hear from Obama hope and change from this quintessential politician, up until now. What I am concerned about, is Hillary's understanding of change of government ?” – Facism, communism, socialism don't work in America? Our constitutionally based democracy has not worked for over 200 years and we are trying to be the greatest country in the World. What does he want for our country? I think by Hillary's brand of liberalism has many questions that need to be answered, before we are hoodwinked into a second term of Jimmy Carter or even worse, while President Bush or McCain brings our country to our knees in disgrace.

    May 20, 2008 at 11:00 pm |
  4. Cameron

    Obama continues to show his naivety on matters of substance, especially on foreign policy. Nice 48 hour flip-flop on Iran, Obama. All we hear from Obama is hope and change from this quintessential politician, up until now. What I am concerned about, as a democrat, “what kind of change of government is he talking about?” – facism, communism, socialism? Our constitutionally based democracy has worked for over 200 years and we are the greatest country in the World. What does he want for our country? I think by Obama’s brand of liberalism has many questions that need to be answered, before we are hoodwinked into a second term of Jimmy Carter or even worse, while Obama brings our country to our knees in disgrace.

    May 20, 2008 at 10:24 pm |
  5. Michelle in CA

    It always fascinates me when people, who will not benefit by electing a certain candidate,,,be they Democrat or Republican...., will vote for that candidate. How easily some are swayed by false promises.

    May 20, 2008 at 10:20 pm |
  6. Pat

    America, needs to quit accepting imigrants even legally, until we can take care of our own, and quit trying to fix the world. We obviously can barely help ourselves. Hillary Clinton is the only person who can begin to get this country headed in the right direction. BHO is winning, because the so called educated, which is the young and dumb, were ignorant enough to go to causcuses in the midst of flu season, and hang around for hours, while somebody tried to figure out what was going on. Older, wiser, working people had staying healthy on their minds. I'm going with Lou Dobbs, if Obama get this nomination. It will be the single worse catastrophy the DNC has ever begun to concieve.

    May 20, 2008 at 10:00 pm |
  7. Matthew

    If this country wants to make a difference in todays politics it will have to change its policy records and stance. First, America is centuries behind other countries around the world who have had black men and women indiscriminately run a country successfully. In this country Barack can not run his campaign compared to any white man in past history, simply because he's black. Americans must be able to embrace not just him but nearly 30 million black people who have not had this recognition and chance to have an national and international impact ever, totally separate from this popularity contest and materialism growing from American rule due to blacks in this country. Negotiations with other countries including Iran and Iraq are necessary to show a new level of politics. Being human, face to face interaction is necessary for trust and accountability.

    May 20, 2008 at 9:51 pm |
  8. Josh

    Where is Ron Paul in all this election coverage?

    May 20, 2008 at 8:44 pm |
  9. Annie Kate

    Seems like our position on Cuba has not changed much since the 1960s. Perhaps its time to re-examine it and update it for changes in the world – the shadow of communism does not loom as largely in our world now as it did then. And our policy towards Cuba didn't work then and still doesn't work. Time to stop and reassess our relations with Cuba – not flip flopping but updating.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    May 20, 2008 at 8:00 pm |
  10. Rene Alvarez

    I don't know if I can agree that Cuban-Americans as a whole are big McCain fans. As the son of Cuban-American parents, I know there is a deep resentment from older Cubans stemming from the Bay of Pigs fiasco, where they feel a Democrat (namely John F Kennedy) failed them. My parents and their friends will never vote Democrat.

    I think what is true is that older, right-leaning Cubans, who tend to be very active politically, like what McCain wants to say. They want to see the Castro Regime punished, regardless of what it means for the well being of the people that live on the island. If you were to ask younger Cubans, especially those raised here, I think you would see a more rational, less emotional decision as to who would lead America best.

    The US policy toward Cuba has no intention of helping the people of Cuba. That approach has not resulted in any benefits, neither for the Cubans living here, or the ones still opressed on the island. US foreign policy is very hypocritical – it's OK to have relations with other opressive governments (China, Saudia Arabia, Russia...), but Cuba gets singled out among other poor countries who bring no economic benefits to the table.

    In the end, the ones that suffer are the people of Cuba, by being cut-off from the help of American ideas, wealth and compassion.

    May 20, 2008 at 7:56 pm |
  11. SumoMedia305

    The answer to this issue is simple. Easy as South Beach that is.
    Cuban-American's are gonna vote for Hillary. Duh!
    Here in Miami the public is leaning towards Hillary...I mean seriously look at how many cuban-homos there are here. Even at a local gay club, the Cubans have painted a mural next to the dance floor that says We <3 Hillary!

    Cuba- Hillary-Pride

    May 20, 2008 at 7:23 pm |
  12. Sharon from Indy

    Are the candidates basically just campaigning for the "swing states" like Florida and Ohio. I mean, McCain has the Florida Cuban-American vote, and a VP running mate for Obama may come from Ohio.

    On the other hand, the campaign trip has been greatly shortened due to the political wrestling match between Obama and Clinton.

    It is going to be interesting. Swing states....get ready for the campaign fleets coming to a town near you.

    May 20, 2008 at 6:09 pm |
  13. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    I cannot speak for all Cubans, but my sister-in-law, her family, and our friends all came here legally. They bring an amazing culture to our nation. They bring a work ethic most cradle Americans only wish they had. They understand gratitude for what is earned. They understand gratitude for freedom from an oppressive government. They understand being really proud as Americans without their spouses running for president. And my guess is they're too smart to vote for a man who has the arrogance to think the dictators they fled from would be willing to give him the time of day or even attempt to work with America.

    May 20, 2008 at 5:44 pm |
  14. Renee

    Hi Lisa:

    Maybe of Cubans came to America in the 1980's under an agreement with Castro and Democratic President Jimmy Carter. In Florida we had in influx of over 125,000 people that were given freedom from a dictatorship. This agreement allowed Cubans to come here legally and be legally processed and have become taxpaying citizens. It was called the Mariel Boat lift. Cubans talk about the Mariel like it was yesterday. Just go to Miami and see or eat at a great Cuban restaurant in Tampa. Most Cubans are very proud to be in America and have a social fabric of family and faith.

    Three or four times per year you will here about Cubans attempting to cross the Florida straits to make it to America. Often there are failed attempts and bodies are found by the US Coast Guard. We often hear about these cases in the local papers.

    Many Mexicans just cross the border and come and never ever pay a lick of taxes. Many Mexicans are draining our resources and our border patrols and our hospitals. Many are crossing the border with illegal drugs etc. Many are involved with violent gangs.

    On the other side, many have come legally over the years and have become happy productive people. There are always different sides to different situations.

    Please keep in mind it was Carter to allowed the Cubans into America!

    May 20, 2008 at 5:34 pm |
  15. Dominic Haberman Hattiesburg, MS

    This message of a strong and resolute America is just spin on our failed foreign policy. At a time when diplomacy is critical, the United States has further isolated itself from our allies and these 'rogue' nations. The implication that we would meet with leaders of any nation without preconditions is absurd. The United States will always have a clear defined set of diplomatic objectives prior to any exchange with a foreign government. The idea that any regime will miraculously change its policies or behaviors without diplomacy is ridiculous. Diplomacy is the process through which the United States can make progress towards making these changes in policy. That is precisely what has happened currently in North Korea. By refusing to meet with them before these preconditions are met we create quite a catch-22 don't we? There is no doubt that there are many courageous Cubans who continue to speak out against their government. However, our complete abscence of political ties combined with a 50 year old embargo has created dire economic realities for all Cubans and had absolutely no success in changing Castro's policies and actions. If we are trying to prove some point or score political points with Cuban-Americans by continuing Cuba's isolation we are only showing our inability to learn from our failed foreign policy decisions. Castro has simply use the United States as a scapegoat for Cuba's low living standards and has had a free reign on controlling the media and politics within his country. If our leaders were smart, they would realize that opening up Cuba to western culture and economics would eventually lead to Cubans demanding democratic and economic changes. But I understand John McCain's argument for the definition of insanity: Continuing the same behavior over and over and expecting different results. Hey, our foreign policy is insane, but it gives us John McCain a potential boost with Cuban-Americans in Florida. Works for me.

    May 20, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  16. Jane, Los Angeles

    I wish we could lose all references to "flip-flopping". The notion that sticking to a position, whatever it might be, is always preferable to flexibility, reanalysis, growth... how does that make sense? Sometimes people change their minds because they're learning.

    May 20, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  17. Lisa

    I'm curious as to how many of those Cubans came to America legally ... I have a hard time reconciling that McCain would support a border between the US and Mexico and yet apparently supports Cubans coming here.

    What is the difference between Cubans coming here illegally and Mexicans? Is it that one is trying to escape an oppressive regime? How is that different from one trying to improve their life by escaping from the poverty that seems to run rampant under their "democratically-elected" government? Escaping to a better way of life is doing just that regardless of how the ruling government was put into place.

    May 20, 2008 at 3:54 pm |
  18. Maritza


    It' s good to see somewhat of a positive light over John McCain, instead of the constant attack and reference to his age, he excels in understanding the domestic immigration problem , although a little to liberal in my judgement, however complex immigration is, there is a candidate that has taken the issue head on , not irrelevent sound bites , that have no action behind them. I can say the same for Hillary she has the long standing support of the hispanic vote, not some phoney " Si se Puede" .


    May 20, 2008 at 3:39 pm |