Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio blasted President Barack Obama as the “worst negotiator” and “naïve” for the manner in which he brokered the release of an American who had been held captive in Cuba since 2009.
U.S. aid worker Alan Gross, held in a Cuban prison for five years, was released Wednesday in exchange for three Cubans imprisoned in the United States. Obama also announced Wednesday a shift in diplomatic policy between the U.S. and Cuba, easing an embargo that’s lasted more than 50 years.
“Barack Obama is the worst negotiator that we’ve had as president since, at least, [former President] Jimmy Carter, and, maybe, in the modern history of this country,” Rubio told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” on Wednesday. “His foreign policy is, at a minimum, naïve, and, perhaps, even truly, truly counterproductive to the future of democracy in the region.”
Rubio, a son of Cuban immigrants, said the swap sent the wrong message to tyrants around the world that “the U.S. can be had, that it’s a pretty easy deal,” adding the action “puts a price on every American abroad.”
“I’m not in favor of the process by which his release was acquired, because I think it does set a very dangerous precedent,” Rubio said. “Governments now know that if they can take an American hostage, they can get very significant concessions from the United States.”
Should Obama announce an intent to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba, Rubio explained, nothing he said would “further that goal,” adding that the issue was an example of the administration’s inclination to negotiate with oppressive regimes.
“It’s absurd, and it’s part of a long record of coddling dictators and tyrants that this administration has established. It is par for the course with an administration that is constantly giving away unilateral concessions, whether it’s Iran, or, in this case, Cuba, in exchange for nothing. And that’s what’s happening here,” he said.
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