Rand Paul backs Obama on Cuba

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Story highlights

  • Sen. Rand Paul says he agrees with President Barack Obama that the Cuban embargo hasn't worked
  • Paul's position is the opposite of other potential GOP 2016 candidates, like Sen. Marco Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush
Sen. Rand Paul broke with the field of Republicans considering a 2016 presidential run on Thursday, calling President Barack Obama's decision to normalize relations with Cuba a "good idea" since the American embargo against Cuba "just hasn't worked."
Paul, a likely presidential candidate, made the remarks in an interview with News Talk 800 WVHU's Tom Roten, just a day after his potential competitors for the Republican nomination -- former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz -- slammed the decision to normalize relations as a dangerous move. Rubio and Cruz are sons of Cuban immigrants.
Paul joined the mostly Democratic supporters of the decision, asserting that the embargo hasn't produced results and hurts the Cuban people rather than their autocratic rulers. He even likened his support to U.S. trade with China, which he called "ultimately the best way to defeat communism."
"The 50-year embargo with Cuba just hasn't worked," Paul said. "If the goal is regime change, it sure doesn't seem to be working and probably it punishes the people more than the regime because the regime can blame the embargo for hardship."
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Paul is not the only Republican to support Obama's decision to increase economic ties with Cuba. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona traveled with a congressional delegation to Cuba that brought back Alan Gross, the formerly imprisoned American aid worker.
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"In the end, I think probably opening up Cuba is probably a good idea," he said.
He also added that he "grew up in a family as anti-communist as you can come by."
Rubio, on the other hand, has led the charge against the Obama administration's landmark deal with the Cuban government, railing against Obama for appeasing an autocratic regime.
"It is a lifeline for the Castro regime that will allow them to become more profitable ... and allow them to become a more permanent fixture," he said Wednesday. "The embargo is leverage, these sanctions are leverage."