Hillary Loves Castro

December 18, 2014

Hillary Clinton was the main architect of the deal reached with Cuba and her advocacy toward opening a new relationship with the Castro regime began almost immediately when she became secretary of state, according to a report from Bloomberg's Josh Rogin.

From 2009 until her departure in early 2013, Clinton and her top aides took the lead on the sometimes public, often private interactions with the Cuban government. According to current and former White House and State Department officials and several Cuba policy experts who were involved in the discussions, Clinton was also the top advocate inside the government for ending travel and trade restrictions on Cuba and reversing 50 years of U.S. policy to isolate the Communist island nation. Repeatedly, she pressed the White House to move faster and faced opposition from cautious high-ranking White House officials. [...]

Clinton’s advocacy on behalf of opening a new relationship with Cuba began almost as soon as she came into office. Obama had campaigned on a promise to engage enemies, but the White House initially was slow to make good on that pledge, and on the Cuba front enacted only a modest relaxation of travel rules. From the start, Clinton pushed to hold Obama to his promise with regard to Cuba.

Clinton immediately got behind the deal when it was announced.

"As Secretary of State, I pushed for his release, stayed in touch with Alan’s wife Judy and their daughters, and called for a new direction in Cuba," she said. "Despite good intentions, our decades-long policy of isolation has only strengthened the Castro regime's grip on power."

Rogin added that should Clinton decide to run for president in 2016, the new Cuba policy could be considered "her policy, not Obama’s."

In her book "Hard Choices," Clinton wrote that she asked Obama to "take another look" at the U.S. embargo on Cuba, which she described as ineffective and harmful to America’s standing across the region. In that sense, she owned up to the position she held while she was in office, even if she didn’t reveal the extent of her involvement.

Either way, if  she does run for president in 2016, Republicans can cast the new policy as her policy, not Obama’s. She was a major author of the effort and will rightly be the recipient of the credit, or the blame, depending on what happens in Cuba between now and then.