Rubio Threatens to Hold Hagel

Rubio comms director: 'I’m sure we would have questions about Cuba positions'

December 20, 2012

The office of Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) is threatening to place a hold on former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, should he be nominated for the post of Secretary of Defense.

In a statement to the Washington Free Beacon, Rubio communications director Alex Conant said, "Promoting democracy in Latin America is a priority for Sen. Rubio, and he’s put holds on other administration nominees over the issue. If President Obama were to nominate Sen. Hagel for a cabinet position, I’m sure we would have questions about Cuba positions."

The statement came in response to questions by the Free Beacon about Hagel’s past opposition to the trade embargo on Cuba.

In 2008, Hagel said "we have an outdated, unrealistic, irrelevant policy" in Cuba.

In 2002, Hagel said, "what Jimmy Carter's saying ... is exactly right: Our 40-year policy toward Cuba is senseless." Hagel also called Fidel Castro "a toothless old dinosaur," a comment sure to rankle those who have suffered under Castro's regime.

President Barack Obama has done little to reorient U.S. policy toward Cuba, and has benefitted from his support for the embargo. In 2012, Obama received 47 percent of the Cuban-American vote, according to exit polls, a record for a Democratic candidate that gave Obama a major boost in his successful effort to secure Florida’s electoral votes.