Sen. Barack Obama will have to defend his support for easier negotiations with America’s enemies when he addresses a leading Cuban-American exile group this week during his first campaign stop in Florida in nine months.
The professed desire by the likely Democratic presidential nominee to hold direct talks with Cuba’s communist leaders if elected has evoked the ire of some Cuban groups in Florida, who maintain that no such talk should be held until real democratic reform takes place on the island.
“Barack said he would be willing to conduct talks with Cuban leaders to advance democracy and liberty on the island,” a senior adviser to Mr. Obama’s campaign told The Washington Times on the condition of anonymity.
“I recognize they may not be in total agreement with the means of this policy,” the adviser said in reference to Cuban exile groups. “But there can be no disagreement on the goal.”
Mr. Obama addresses the Cuban American National Foundation at a lunch meeting Friday in Miami as part of a three-day swing through Florida that starts in Tampa and Maitland on Wednesday and continues in South Florida on Thursday and Friday.
The Obama campaign has announced at least one large public rally in the state u2;014 at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa on Wednesday.
The Miami stop will follow Republican candidate Sen. John McCain’s arrival here on Tuesday, the anniversary of Cuban independence, when he is expected to discuss his policy toward the communist island in a speech at the Sheraton Miami Mart Hotel.
The two leading candidates for the White House have widely divergent takes on U.S. policy toward Cuba.