Marco Rubio will mark the U.S. flag being raised in Havana for the first time in more than 50 years with a speech in New York, assailing President Barack Obama for making "dangerous deals" with Cuba and Iran.
The Republican presidential candidate, who will appear Friday morning at an event hosted by the Foreign Policy Initiative, will announce that if elected president he'd invite dissidents of repressed countries from across the world, including Cuba, Iran and China "to be honored guests at my inauguration."
His remarks come as Secretary of State John Kerry is to raise the U.S. flag at the embassy in Havana and Rubio will charge that Obama "has been quick to deal with the oppressors, but slow to deal with the oppressed." Cuban dissidents won’t be attending the flag-raising in Havana, but Kerry will meet with them later in the afternoon at a smaller event.
According to excerpts of his speech released in advance, the Florida Republican senator will say that he believes Obama's push for a nuclear deal with Iran and his outreach to the Cuban government in Havana "represent the convergence of nearly every flawed strategic, moral, and economic notion" of his foreign policy.
He will say the two deals demonstrate that the administration “has placed politics before policy, adversaries before allies, and legacy before leadership.”
Rubio is to say that as president, he'd tell the ruling Castro brothers that the diplomatic overtures would be erased unless they carry out "meaningful political and human rights reforms." And he will say he'd restore Cuba to the state sponsor of terror list and provide support to Cuba’s pro-democracy movement.
The speech also comes as the Obama administration seeks to ramp up support for an agreement aimed at preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Rubio, who opposes the deal, will say that a President Rubio would reimpose sanctions on Iran and ask Congress to pass "crushing new measures that target human rights abusers and Iran’s leaders involved in financing and overseeing Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism."
Rubio is also to say that he’d end the defense sequester and position forces in the Middle East "to signal readiness and restore a credible military option." He will also say he'd also link any nuclear weapons talks to Iran’s "broader conduct, from human rights abuses to support for terrorism and threats against Israel."
--LESLEY CLARK, McClatchy Washington Bureau