Romney to Cuban-American voters: Don’t worry, Ryan supports the embargo
The GOP candidate sought to cool down the controversy surrounding his running mate’s voting record.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Monday that his running mate Paul Ryan supports the U.S. embargo on Cuba in an effort to clear up a bubbling controversy over his position.
Ryan caught flak from some in the Cuban-American exile community for voting against the embargo as a member of Congress in 2001 and 2004. The community is a powerful force in South Florida GOP politics that strongly backs the embargo, so Ryan’s votes had caused somewhat of an uproar even though his stance evolved and he opposed a measure that would have weakened the embargo in 2007.
Romney appeared on Miami’s Radio Mambí — a Spanish-language station catered to the exile community — and explained that Ryan changed his position after meeting with South Florida Cuban lawmakers Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart.
“They convinced him that the embargo is an important effort to put pressure on the Castro brothers,” Romney said. “His position is like mine, he wants to maintain pressure on the Cuban regime.”
Romney also addressed Ryan’s controversial plan to transform Medicare, the healthcare program for seniors. Under Ryan’s budget outline, the government would no longer provide direct healthcare benefits for retirees (people who are currently 55 and over would be exempt from this). Instead, the program would allow retirees to purchase Medicare or private insurance and then the government would provide a subsidy to pay for it.
Democrats have dismissed the proposal, saying it would lead to fewer healthcare benefits for seniors. Romney mainly sought to assure current seniors who might be scared off by the Ryan plan that it would not affect them.
“We can protect and save Social Security and Medicare so that we can continue to honor all of our promises to seniors,” Romney said. “There will be no changes to those programs for seniors or those about ready to retire.”
Romney criticized Obama for “raid[ing] Medicare by $700 billion,” referring to provisions in President Obama’s healthcare law that would cap the rate of increase Medicare spending and eliminate waste. Obama says the healthcare law would not reduce benefits for Medicare beneficiaries.
The Republican candidate also attacked Obama’s record on immigration, saying he failed to pass reform in his first term.
“I think many Hispanic voters have to be disappointed with President Obama on immigration because he said when he was a candidate he would fix immigration, but he did not,” he said. “If I am president, I will do something Mr. Obama did not do. I will reform immigration.”
Romney said his plan would “make it easier to understand how to come to this country legally and at the same time make sure we eliminate illegal immigration.”
Democrats have heaped scorn on Romney’s immigration rhetoric, especially for saying he would veto the DREAM Act and that he backs “self-deportation”, a series of tough enforcement measure that would spark undocumented immigrants to leave the U.S. on their own.
Despite the other concerns, Romney said his central message to Latinos is that his administration would spark more robust job creation and economic growth.
“When I was here last, I received a very warm response from the Cuban-American community and my message is very simple: I know what it takes to create good jobs and good take home pay.”
LISTEN TO AUDIO OF ROMNEY’S INTERVIEW HERE.
(Photo: Flickr, hispanic leadership network)