Marco Rubio

Sen. Marco Rubio. | Samuel Corum/Getty Pictures

TALLAHASSEE — Fidel Castro is as soon as once more casting an extended shadow over U.S presidential politics.

The previous Cuban president is a subject of derision for each political events in Florida and Republicans right here used him on Saturday to bash Karen Bass, a California Democrat who’s rising on Joe Biden’s vice-presidential shortlist.


“She would be the highest-ranking Castro sympathizer within the historical past of the US authorities,” Sen. Marco Rubio mentioned on a convention name organized by the Trump marketing campaign to trash Bass.

Bass made quite a few journeys to Cuba courting again to the 1970s, and professed her sympathies when Castro died in 2016, a place that’s politically toxic in Miami, a key block of voters in a state central to President Donald Trump’s re-election bid. A lot of the early focus when rumors emerged that Bass was rising amongst VP candidates was her description of Castro as “Comandante en Jefe” in a press release when he died, a phrase that interprets to “commander-in-chief.”

“As Cuba begins 9 days of mourning, I want to categorical my condolences to the Cuban individuals and the household of Fidel Castro,” her workplace issued in a press release marking the Cuban chief’s demise. “The passing of the Comandante en Jefe is a good loss to the individuals of Cuba.”

Her feedback got here at a time when then-President Barack Obama was attempting to normalize relations with the island nation, together with opening an embassy in Havana. Bass was a part of the delegation that traveled to Cuba for the 2015 embassy opening.

Florida, and Miami particularly, represents a large cross-section of Latinos, lots of whom have fled or have members of the family who fled leftist Latin American regimes, together with Castro’s Cuba. South Florida every election cycle options makes an attempt by politicians to model their political opponents as Castro sympathizers to attain political factors in a area the place the problem is a little bit of a 3rd rail. However on paper, Biden has thus far been robust for Republicans to forged as a socialist, nevertheless it has been the go-to messaging technique for the GOP lately, and one thing deployed to bitter voters on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ earlier this yr. And there has additionally been early indicators that some Florida Democrats are involved about Bass’ positions on Cuba as effectively.

Bass has since tried to stroll again that assertion, saying final week on MSNBC “it’s actually one thing that I might not say once more.”

“I’ve all the time supported the Cuban individuals, and the connection that Barack Obama and Biden had of their administration when it comes to opening up relations,” she mentioned.

On the Trump marketing campaign name, Rubio mentioned it’s not nearly one remark.

“That is one thing that she is going to now need to deflect from, however I don’t imagine within the final six many years that there has ever been anybody thought of for the vice presidency … with this degree of sympathy in the direction of a Marxist regime,” Rubio mentioned.

He mentioned the actual fact Bass supporters try to make it about one remark is “insulting.”

The Biden marketing campaign sidestepped Bass’ remark itself and mentioned the Trump is hardly the individual to color anybody else as being too sympathetic to the world’s tyrants.

“There may be one presidential candidate who has did not meaningfully condemn dictators and expressed a willingness to fulfill with brutal dictator Nicolas Maduro and that’s Donald Trump,” mentioned Kevin Muñoz, a Florida spokesman for Biden for President. “Make no mistake: it’s Donald Trump who failed to answer this pandemic that’s hurting Florida households as we noticed one other day of document deaths — and that is nothing however one other try and distract from his failures.“

The 77-year-old former vp and Delaware senator has developed a status as a reasonable, one thing that labored in opposition to him in a Democratic major in opposition to Sanders, whose progressive supporters loathed Biden’s model of centrist politics. Biden beat Sanders with Hispanic voters in Florida’s March major, which helped deflate the narrative from Sanders supporters that points like Castro and socialism had been shedding sway with Florida’s Hispanic voters.

With Bass’ rise, nonetheless, Trump’s marketing campaign sees a gap to additional forged Biden as a “Computer virus” for the kind of insurance policies pushed by Sanders and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive Republicans wish to level to as proof that the Democratic Social gathering is being dragged too far to the left.

“That is how the socialist and communist revolutions start to seize nations that had been as soon as affluent and free. Nations like Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua,” Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, who’s Cuban American, mentioned on the Trump marketing campaign name. “Taking recommendation from individuals like Bernie Sanders and AOC are actually just the start.”

In Florida, the priority about Bass is bipartisan, as Democrats are frightened placing her on the ticket would needlessly give Trump new ammunition within the nation’s largest swing-state. Many Florida Democrats additionally help one other Biden short-lister: Val Demings, a Black former Orlando police chief who has been in Congress since 2016.

POLITICO has reported that Florida Democrats had been involved as quickly as Biden started floating Bass’ names as a possible operating mate.

“Reward just like the one which was given by Bass on the time of Castro’s demise is inconsistent with my household’s expertise with what the regime did — and continues to do — to individuals on the island, which is suppress human rights, preserve individuals underneath a totalitarian thumb and stifle financial development,” Miami state Rep. Javier Fernandez, whose bid for an open state Senate seat might carry Democrats nearer than ever to flipping management of the chamber, mentioned in a June interview.

“The feedback are troubling,” he added. “It reveals a lack of know-how about what the Castro regime was about.”

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