Recently I posted a few notes about a certain Democratic party operative and his new strategy to gain votes for his party. The strategy is to come out “in favor of the embargo, but against travel and remittance restrictions.” I said the strategy wouldn’t work.
I was wrong.
I just realized that the strategy is not about getting Cuban-Americans to vote for the Democratic candidate next November, it’s about getting Cuban-American Democrats to vote for Barack Obama in the Florida primary in January. Obama has staked out a position that differentiates himself from Hillary Clinton who is the front runner and therefore being more cautious in her approach. Obama, with the aid of this operative, has put Hillary in a position where she’ll either have to do “me-to”, go further and say she’ll get rid of the whole embargo, or, God forbid, maintain the President’s line (an unenviable position for a Democrat).
Pretty smart. It may work with some Cuban-American Dems, but I think Hillary’s nomination is inevitable.
Real Clear Politics explains Hillary’s response to Barack Obama’s gambit on Cuba. If Obama is trying add a degree of nuance between the candidates, Hillary is really slicing it thin. Here’s Real Clear Politics quoting today’s Miami Herald:
Rival Sen. Hillary Clinton said she would continue the Bush administration’s hard-line stance, for the most part. Clinton’s campaign said she agrees that exiles should be able to freely send money to their relatives but said she does not favor ”any wholesale, broad changes” to the travel restrictions until Fidel Castro falls. Clinton did vote with Obama in 2005 — unsuccessfully — to ease restrictions on family travel in “humanitarian cases.”
”She supports the embargo and our current policy toward Cuba, and until it is clear what type of political winds may come with a new government — if there is a new government — we cannot talk about changes to U.S. policy,” Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee said.
RCP then goes on to, more or less, validate my theory:
Obama was more or less daring Clinton endorse the current US policy toward Cuba, knowing that it might cost him votes in Florida but would also serve to reinforce the broader theme of his campaign as a “change of direction.”
I agree that this was a ploy to get Hillary to commit to something that resembles the Bush policy. But I disagree that this will cost Obama any votes in Florida if he were the nominee. Let me be clear. This whole thing is about primary politics not the general election. In the primary both candidates are trying to set themselves apart from each other in order to woo the Democratic base. The dialoguero Cuban-Americans will vote for the candidate that represents most change from the current policy. If they perceive that that’s Obama, they’ll vote for him. But in November you can’t lose votes you never had. Hard-liners and Republicans aren’t going to vote for Clinton or Obama anyway so it’s a smart move on Obama’s part but as I said, Clinton has this thing in the bag.