President Obama Can Help Crist Win Florida

Progresso Weekly has published an optimistic assessment of how Charlie Crist can regain the governorship of Florida as a Democrat, an important contest for Americans who want more rational relations with Cuba.

It is worth considering whether a breakthrough by President Obama with Havana could help by demonstrating that Crist’s call for a new approach to Cuba was realistic and relevant.

Obvious White House options are opening travel with a general license for all purposeful travelers, not just Cuban Americans; movement toward normal relations; and suspending anti-private enterprise aspects of the embargo.

When the latest poll by Florida International University was conducted this spring, a narrow margin of Cuban Americans in Miami-Dade County who were registered to vote (51% to 49%) opposed repeal of the embargo, but 78% viewed it as not working very well or not at all.

More to the point of potential Presidential action, 57% would likely vote for a candidate in favor of replacing the embargo with a policy increasing support for independent business owners.

Also within the realm of Presidential power, 58% of registered Cuban Americans favored unrestricted travel by all Americans and 55% supported establishment of normal diplomatic relations.

The poll did not address the Alan Gross issue, but successful negotiation of his freedom is likely to generate approval for Obama and indirectly for Crist in the influential and high voter turnout Jewish community in Florida.

Including in the deal freedom for some or all of the three Cuban prisoners here is not likely to concern Jewish voters who have witnessed far more disproportionate exchanges in Israel. I doubt it would create a problem outside of hard line exiles who will never support Crist because of his call to repeal the embargo.

By John McAuliff, The Havana Note

August 31, 2014

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