PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Florida Senator Marco Rubio defended Paul Ryan's shifting stance on the Cuban embargo today, saying he thought he'd been able to talk sense into the Wisconsin Congressman and shift him to a harder line on the Communist state.
"One of the things we take great pride in in my community is that we go to Congress and we make friends with people and we inform them why the embargo’s important and what it means for Cuba, and a lot of people change their mind after hearing from us," Rubio said after a breakfast with the South Carolina delegates in town for the Republican National Convention. "I recall in 2008, Mike Huckabee for years had supported more interaction with Cuba and changed his position after we talked to him about it."
"And that’s what happened with Paul Ryan — my colleagues in the House explained the issue to him and he’s become a very consistent supporter of the embargo and sanctions against the Cuban government."
There's been speculation that Ryan could hurt the Republican ticket in Miami-Dade county due to his past support of lifting the Cuban embargo, which many of the most politically-active Cuban-Americans wish to keep.
Rubio also dismissed a more central Republican concern, that Ryan could hamper the Republicans' chances in all of senior-heavy Florida because of his budget plan, which proposes turning Medicare into a voucher system.
Rubio on Tuesday said that wouldn't be the case.
"We have 3 milion people in this state on Medicare, one of them is my mom," he said. "And we're desperate to find a solution. Anyone who’s in favor of leaving Medicare the way it is now is in favor of bankrupting it."
"Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are the only ones in this race with a serious plan to save Medicare," he said. "So I think it’ll turn out to be an asset. I think seniors do know about that and they’ll know more about that."
"One of the great things about campaigns is you get to debate big issues and explain to people what the stakes are and what the opportunities are. And if we act now we have a chance to save Medicare, to keep it exactly the way it is right now for current seniors like my mom and Paul Ryan's mom and others who are current beneficiaries. But that's going to require future beneficiaries — 41-year-olds like me, 42-year-olds like Paul Ryan — it's going to require us to accept that our Medicare will look different from our parents'."