Jeb Bush, who has opposed President Obama's re-engagement with Cuba, said Wednesday that if he were elected he would likely not keep a U.S. embassy open in Havana.
"Probably not," Bush told the editorial board of the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper.
Embassies in Washington and Havana are slated to open July 20. "I haven't given thought about undoing a work in progress," Bush said.
But he said that while he's willing to give Obama the "benefit of the doubt" about reaching out to opposing governments, he has seen few results from the closer relations with Cuba.
"We're negotiating without getting anything in return," Bush said. "While we're negotiating, the repression has actually increased."
That claim surprised the editorial board. Cuba news is no where near as prominent in New Hampshire as it is in Bush's hometown of Miami, where beatings and detentions attributed to Cuban security forces are regularly denounced by local members of Congress and discussed on Spanish-language media.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Bush rival for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, published an op-ed Wednesday in the New York Times also arguing against Obama's policy.
In a lengthy piece released Wednesday afternoon, Cuba Now, a non-profit that promotes engagement with the island, questioned whether Raúl Castro's regime has in fact become more repressive. While "the human rights situation in the island remains of a grave concern," Cuba Now Executive Director Ric Herrero argued critics have cherry-picked statistics to make things seem worse than they are.
Opponents of the re-engagement have written pieces of their own documenting, among other things, the Cuban regime's ongoing political arrests.
Bush said in New Hampshire that he hears first-hand from his Miami friends and neighbors worried about life on the island. The Union Leader live-streamed the Bush interview online.
"I have a lot of friends who have suffered a lot," he said.
This post has been updated.