Obama’s ‘legacy’ drive lost Florida for Clinton
‘Pride goeth before destruction,” Proverbs 16:18 reminds us, and so it was in this election.
The evidence is mounting that President Obama’s overzealous defense of his “opening Cuba” gambit cost Hillary Clinton the state of Florida. That misstep could end up wiping out most of the president’s carefully curated “legacy” achievements.
For the president and his young Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, the establishment of diplomatic relations with one of the world’s last communist dictatorships became something they weirdly defended from any criticism. Even the smallest amendment that watered down coddling the Castros drew fulminating threats of vetoes from the White House.
Then in late October, President Obama went for broke and decided to stick a bigger needle in his opponents’ eye.
He lifted limits on the import of cigars and rum, and then ordered our ambassador to the United Nations to abstain from a vote condemning the US economic embargo on Cuba.
That UN directive was especially galling. President Obama was, in fact, venting his frustration with Congress for not lifting the embargo upon his command — which Congress has the right to refuse to do — by letting the world body mock US law unopposed.
The Cuban-American community in Miami was irritated enough to give a second look to Donald Trump, who quickly reacted by shifting from his earlier tepid support for Obama’s Cuba policy to a promise that he would end relations unless Raul Castro began democratic reforms.
A New York Times-Siena poll, headlined “Cubans Come Home to Trump,” confirmed that all this was enough to add almost 20 percentage points to Trump’s support among Cuban-Americans.
Trump voters in this group shot from 33 percent in September to 52 percent just a few days before the election, according to the poll. And there is evidence they may have voted even in larger numbers for Trump.
Various exit polls put Cuban-Americans as supporting Trump over Clinton by a 53-41 percent clip, while analyses of Cuban-American precincts puts the support closer to 60-40.
Clinton ended up losing the election to Trump by the razor-thin margin of 125,000 votes out of more than 9 million cast, in a state where Cuban-Americans number more than a million.
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