In My Humble Opinion, Pt. 33

Wednesday, July 6, 2011
From The Hill:

DNC boss, President at odds on Cuba policy

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), tapped by President Obama to head the Democratic National Committee, is a hard-liner on Cuba, which means the chairwoman of the organization intent on reelecting the president disagrees with Obama on a foreign policy issue that is electorally sensitive in a swing state.

Wasserman Schultz's tough approach toward the Communist regime, including her firm position on the Cuba embargo, has helped solidify her popularity within Florida's powerful Cuban-American community, but it differs greatly from Obama's more lenient stance towards the Castro government.

If the White House thought Wasserman Schultz's new role as Obama's top cheerleader would, in and of itself, win over Cuban-American voters wary of Obama's Cuba policy and put that vital swing state in the president's column in 2012, some leading experts on Cuba-U.S. relations have words of warning for the president's team.

"[Wasserman Schultz] wields great credibility amongst the Cuban-American community. She's an honorary Cuban-American. If she were the one running for president, she would do extraordinarily well in our community," said Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee. "However, the president's policies of easing sanctions and unilateral concessions to the Castro regime are likely to be judged on their own."

Claver-Carone, a former Treasury Department attorney, said Wasserman Schultz's new prominence within the Democratic Party "certainly provides the Cuban-American community comfort." But he was quick to predict that neither her popularity nor her new role as presidential promoter will temper the suspicions of Cuban-American voters toward Obama's Cuba positions.

"Obama's policies of unilaterally lifting sanctions is already spilled milk that's tough to put back into the glass," Claver-Carone wrote in an email.