Friday, February 22, 2008

Clinton vs. Obama: Cuba (Hillary is fudging a bit)

Hillary's staff wasted no time in getting a couple of digs in on Barack immediately after the debate in Texas. One of her fact checks is not totally legitimate. In her "Fact Hub," Hillary accuses Barack of flip-flopping on Cuba during the debate. She quotes from the debate and includes this comment from the moderator, Campbell Brown:
OBAMA: …but I would not normalize relations until we started seeing some of the progress that Senator Clinton is talking about.
BROWN: But that's different from your position, back in 2003, you called us policy towards Cuba a miserable failure and you supported normalizing relations. So you backtracked now. [As I read this my first thought was: what did Obama say in response? Somehow Hillary failed to give that information.]
At this point, Hillary pulls a fast one by not showing Barack's response to Brown's question. Instead she quotes from an Obama statement in 2004. Here is what Obama said, according to the CNN transcript:

OBAMA: I support the eventual normalization. And it's absolutely true that I think our policy has been a failure. I mean, the fact is, is that during my entire lifetime, and Senator Clinton's entire lifetime, you essentially have seen a Cuba that has been isolated, but has not made progress when it comes to the issues of political rights and personal freedoms that are so important to the people of Cuba.

So I think that we have to shift policy. I think our goal has to be ultimately normalization. But that's going to happen in steps. And the first step, as I said, is changing our rules with respect to remittances and with respect to travel.

And then I think it is important for us to have the direct contact, not just in Cuba, but I think this principle applies generally. I recall what John F. Kennedy once said, that we should never negotiate out of fear, but we should never fear to negotiate. And this moment, this opportunity when Fidel Castro has finally stepped down, I think, is one that we should try to take advantage of.

Now, whether or not you think this is double-speak on Obama's part or not, it is a bit of an underhanded move to not include Obama's response.


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