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DNC Chair Wasserman Schultz breaks with Obama (and Bush) over Castro visa

First, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson opposed the Obama Administration's decision to award a visa to the niece of Fidel Castro. Now comes Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Broward Congresswoman who -- like Nelson -- is tough on Cuba and was put in quite a spot by the decision of Obama.

Trying to straddle both worlds of Obama loyalist and Cuba hardliner, Wasserman Schultz noted that Mariela Castro had three times visited the United States when President Bush was in office in 2001 and 2002. And there was nary a peep of protest. But back then, it appears, no one really knew about it.

Still, it's clear she opposes the decision now as she would have then.

Here's a statement from her congressional office: “The Bush Administration set a bad precedent by granting Mariela Castro a waiver in 2001 and 2002, as I believe that such visa requests should not be accepted because of the ongoing human rights abuses in Cuba. While I respect my colleagues, it's important to note they did not criticize President George W. Bush for granting Ms. Castro a waiver in 2002. Politics has no place when we are standing up for human rights."

This isn’t the first time that Wasserman Schultz’s South Florida-infused Cuba policy has conflicted with her fellow Democrats over Cuba policy. A May 2011 story noted that, though Obama and Wasserman Schultz are friends, they differ on Cuba policy

“Obama has backed greater engagement with Cuba; Wasserman Schultz opposes easing restrictions on the Castro government and as a freshman legislator helped found the Cuba Democracy Caucus, a bipartisan group of pro-embargo legislators that works to thwart efforts to ease the embargo.

“It’s not going to be something that creates any daylight between the president and myself,” she said. She’s not talked Cuba policy with Obama recently, she said.”

In November 2009, Wasserman Schultz rallied 52 other Democrats in the House to oppose lifting the Cuba embargo. They sent a letter to then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi supporting current Cuba policy, which embargo-supporters said effectively killed a bill to open Cuba to tourists.

Also, in 2008, Wasserman Schultz’ relationship with fellow South Florida Reps and Cuba hardliners Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart and Lincoln Diaz-Balart left the Democrat on the sidelines when she was supposed to be helping to raise money to support the Republicans’ opponents.