At Thursday’s GOP debate in Miami, CNN’s Dana Bash asked the Florida senator what he though of President Barack Obama’s attempts to normalize relations with Cuba. “I would like the relationship between U.S. and Cuba to change. But Cuba has to change first,” Rubio said. Bash then turned to Trump, who has backed diplomatic relations with Cuba in the past. Trump responded that the U.S. needed a “better deal” with Cuba, but stumbled over what exactly that meant.
After pressure from Bash to state specifics about his position on Cuba, Trump finally said he would probably close the embassy in Havana until the U.S. reached a deal with Cuba that guaranteed that Cuba wouldn’t sue the U.S. for “a tremendous amount of money.” Rubio pointed out that the embassy was in the same building as the former consulate, insinuating that Trump didn’t really know what he was talking about. Plus, Rubio said, “I don’t know that Cuba is going to sue us, but if they sue in a court in Miami, they are going to lose.” His quip got big laughs and cheers from the audience; they grew into a standing ovation as he mentioned free elections, a Chinese listening station, and Assata Shakur—“that cop killer from New Jersey.”
If Rubio hadn’t gotten big applause in a hometown debate for a harsh answer on Cuba, he’d be in trouble; it’s too bad the rest of Florida isn’t so keen on him.