By Dawn Gable
HAVANA TIMES — Last week Florida Senator Marco Rubio delivered a speech before the Republican National Convention in Tampa Florida in which he once again played the pity card, exploiting the hardships that his parents endured as immigrants who came to the US in 1956, in order to further his own career.
However, an anonymous leak of the speech’s text to the Weekly Standard hours before its delivery dampened much of the interest in it.
Many had expected US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to pick Rubio as his vice-presidential running mate, instead of Paul Ryan. But already there is new speculation, half joking and half not, that he is being saved to run with Jeb Bush in 2016.
In fact, Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”, which has dubbed its coverage of this year’s convention “The Republican National Convention: The Road to Jeb Bush 2016” teased Rubio about this when he appeared on the show Tuesday night.
During his conversation with host Jon Stewart, the Senator said that one of the United States’ main economic problems is that US policy discourages investment because it is not “permanent”. Stewart light-heartedly suggested solving the problem by simply doing away with elections, which tend to cause these pesky policy shifts.
Rubio’s name is slathered around the blogosphere this week too as Cuba travel advocates credit him with the recent hold up on renewing licenses for travel service providers. Earlier in the year the Senator held up the diplomatic appointment of Roberta Jacobson pressuring the administration to tighten the licensing process. Applications that were originally a few pages long are now reaching over 100 pages and of the over 140 providers up for renewal, less than 5 have been approved so far.
In protest, a relatively new US organization, CAFE, Cuban Americans For Engagement, delivered a petition to the Republican convention signed by hundreds of US citizens informing the delegates that Cuban Americans do not make up a monolithic community that supports the embargo and that the growing number of voices calling for engagement with Cuba must be taken into account. The same petition will be sent to the Democratic Convention as well.
Meanwhile, the ongoing federal investigation of Florida Republican David Rivera is getting ever more serious. The hardline Representative of Cuban decent who is in a tight race against a more progressive candidate of Cuban decent, Joe Garcia, has been accused of financing the campaign of a “ringer” against Garcia in the district’s Democratic primary elections, which Joe handily won anyway.
Several vendors that provided services to the Democratic primary campaign of Justin Sternad, a part-time hotel clerk, claim that Rivera paid tens of thousands of dollars in cash, including via envelopes stuffed with $100 bills, for several pieces of direct mail that attacked Garcia and promoted Sternard, to be created and delivered to voters. Charges for a whole host of campaign finance violations are being pursued. This scandal is concurrent with another federal investigation into Rivera’s handling of his own campaign funds and into a $500,000 secret dog-track payment.
This is nothing but good news for Garcia who is currently up nine points over Rivera in the polls and who is running on the notion that Rivera will be too busy with his legal battles to be of any use to his constituents. This is Garcia’s third bid for Congress and it looks like he is a shoe-in.
Once the director of the Cuban American National Foundation, his views on effective tactics to bring “change” to the island has shifted somewhat to a more pragmatic, although not yet well-defined, approach that appears to be open to at least limited critical engagement.
A win by Garcia would be indicative of the more moderate stance of the younger Cuban descendents and of the more recently arrived Cubans in Miami.