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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Crist's Cuba flip-flop



Campaign trail 2006, Little Havana, Miami:

"I understand that it's important not to go to Cuba when she's under the dictatorship, but unfortunately the man I'm running against doesn't understand that. But I know that you do."

That was Republican Charlie Crist ripping into Democratic rival Jim Davis, who traveled to Cuba in 2003 as a member of Congress. (Davis decried the attack, noting he voted to maintain the economic embargo)

On Friday, Crist made news for calling for an end to the Cuba embargo, a significant change in tone as he runs as a Democrat for governor. Critics quickly point to his past rhetoric as evidence of another flip-flop.

"In 2010 @SunSentinel ed board, @CharlieCrist wouldn't even support fewer restrictions on travel to Cuba," tweeted Alex Burgos, a top aide to Sen. Marco Rubio. (Crist does reject easing travel but also doesn't sound like a hard-liner)

In a Senate debate on Univision, Crist agreed with Kendrick Meek and Rubio that the embargo should remain. At the same time he and Meek called for "allowing more contact between Cuban families here and on the island, while maintaining pressure on the Castro regime," according to a Sun-Sentinel report.

What's more, as Mary Ellen Klas notes, Crist the GOP governor backed U.S. sanctions against Cuba and signed a state law hiking costs on agencies that book trips to the repressive regime. “I think the current policy in place is responsible,'” said Crist on June 14, 2010, on a visit to Miami Beach. “I do support the embargo."

Crist's new views reflect shifting political attitudes toward Cuba. Rep. Kathy Castor, who took Davis' seat in congress, recently said the 52-year-old embargo should end, and South Florida sugar boss Alfy Fanjul, made national news last week announcing it was time to ease relations with his former country.

"I know a lot, a hell of a lot, of elected officials, from different parties, political persuasions and backgrounds," Republican commentator Ana Navarro wrote on Facebook. "Charlie Crist is the most opportunistic and phony of them all. God help Florida."

[Last modified: Sunday, February 9, 2014 1:59pm]


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