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Cuba hardliners laud Debbie Wasserman Schultz's appointment

Joe Biden sang her praises, as did Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. But Ileana Ros-Lehtinen? Yup. The Miami Republican who is close with Wasserman Schultz told the Herald in an email that she's pleased with the president's choice to head up the national Democratic party.

"I'm pleased to see my good pal, Debbie, move up in her party's leadership ladder," Ros-Lehtinen said. "She is a fierce partisan defender of her political party and enjoys a hearty debate. In spite of her fund-raising skills, the GOP is sure to keep our majority party status in the House and will even expand in the Senate in 2012. However, I know that Debbie will do everything in her power to not make that come true."

The South Florida congressional delegation is traditionally friendly, regardless of political affiliation. But Wasserman Schultz, a staunch defender of the economic embargo against Cuba, has especially warm ties with South Florida Republicans who share her stance on tough sanctions against the island. As a freshman legislator, Wasserman Schultz helped found the Cuba Democracy Caucus, a bipartisan group of pro-embargo legislators that works to thwart efforts to ease the embargo. She's also been a recipient of dollars from the U.S. Cuba Democracy PAC. The friendship got the Broward Democrat -- then in charge of her party's House seats -- in a tight spot with Democratic activists in 2008 when she said she was going to sit on the sidelines while Democrats tried to pick off the three Miami Republicans. She later campaigned with the Dems.

Capitol Hill Cubans, a blog run by a leading embargo lobbyist with the PAC, applauded the president's move for his "outstanding choice."