Of the simple rules in Florida elections, few stand out like this one: Don’t look wobbly over Castro — especially in an election year.
President Barack Obama’s administration didn’t seem to get the memo.
The administration granted the niece of Fidel Castro a visa to speak at a gay-rights summit in California last week. Mariela Castro repaid the kindness by engaging in the same type of Orwellian and hypocritical doubletalk as her uncle and father, Cuban President Raul Castro.
Then she made sure to bang in the final public-relations coffin nail.
"I would vote for President Obama," she said, according to Agence France-Presse. "I think he’s sincere and speaks from the heart."
Count that de facto endorsement of Obama as an independent expenditure for his challenger, Mitt Romney. The Republican’s campaign made sure to denounce the Castro clan at every turn.
AFP noted that Castro’s trip has been denounced by "opposition Republicans." But it utterly failed to mention that Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Broward congresswoman, and Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (the only statewide elected Democrat) also opposed the granting of her visa.
Nelson specifically raised the issue of a wrongfully jailed American in Cuba.
"Allowing Raul’s daughter to come to the U.S. when the regime still holds Alan Gross makes no sense," Nelson said.
Privately, some of Obama’s biggest Florida supporters agree. They just can’t fathom this. It’s not as if Castro is some wayward child. She’s a face and mouthpiece of the dictatorship.
Obama’s defenders are quick to counter with two points: 1) During President George W. Bush’s term, Castro was allowed to travel three times to the United States and 2) Cuban-hardliners who opposed the visa opposed Obama anyway. So it was a wash.