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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Did Jeb Bush's brother, George W. Bush, lay 'welcome mat for Communists' like Barack Obama?

Yes, it seems. "Mariela Castro visited once in 2001 and twice in 2002. I can’t discuss her visas specifically, but you can assume she needed one to travel," State Department spokesman William Ostick said in an email response to a Miami Herald inquiry.

Original post:

The Jeb Bush-led Hispanic Leadership Network sent out a screamer of a press release headlined "Obama Lays Welcome Mat for Communist at U.S. Front Door" because the president's administration granted a visa to Raul Castro's daughter. The subhead: Mariela Castro Espin's Visit "Sends the Wrong Message"

But the press release itself might send the wrong message because it appears the administration of Bush's brother, former President George W. Bush, might have given Mrs. Castro a visa in 2002. That's according to two AP stories datelined out of Havana.

No comment from the Hispanic Leadership Network on the potential hypocrisy.

But what's weird here is that a Nexis clip search only yields two stories from 2002 that says she "applied" for a visa. It doesn't note whether her application was granted.

We're awaiting comment from the State Department. But we're not holding our breath. Meantime, Democrats have glommed on to the report and bashed Republicans for bashing Obama for doing what President Bush appeared to do.

"Republicans need to stop playing with people's emotions when it comes to Cuba," Obama surrogate Freddy Balsera said in a statement. "While they grab headlines criticizing the President and distorting his record on Cuba, they avoid saying that Mariela Castro actually received a visa to visit the US in 2002 under the Bush Administration. In fact, the top State Department Official in charge of Latin America at the time was a Cuban American. Where was their criticism then? Nowhere, because ultimately this is all about politics for them"

The Republican National Committee just sent out a press release "on Obama Rolling out the Red Carpet for the Castro Family."

So someone's going to look pretty stupid.

Either the AP and the Democrats got it wrong. Or Republicans look like a pack of hypocrites. Stay tuned.

-- Marc Caputo, Miami Herald

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[Last modified: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 12:52pm]


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