Obama would meet with Castro
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said at the CNN debate in Austin that he would be willing to meet immediately with Cuba’s new leader, Raul Castro. But Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said she would not.
In fact, Obama broadly extended his policy of being willing to meet with dictators without preconditions, while Clinton holds the more traditional position that a U.S. president should hold such negotiations only after extensive groundwork has been done.
“Not just in Cuba, but I think this principle applies generally,” Obama said. “I recall what John F. Kennedy once said: 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.”
Clinton said: “I agree absolutely that we should be willing to have diplomatic negotiations and processes with anyone. … But there has been this difference between us over when and whether the president should offer a meeting without preconditions with those with whom we do not have diplomatic relations. And it should be part of a process. But I don’t think it should be offered in the beginning, because I think that undermines the capacity for us to actually take the measure of someone like Raul Castro.”
Then Clinton offered her own Kennedy paraphrase: “As President Kennedy said, he wouldn’t be afraid to negotiate, but he would expect there to be a lot of preparatory work done to find out exactly what he would get out of it.”
The moderator had barely begun the next question when the Republican National Committee blasted out a sheet of Obama’s quotes over the years that was headed “Obama’s Stance On Cuba Is Completely Inconsistent & Incoherent.”
And the Clinton campaign issued: “Obama flip-flop on Cuba.”
Wonder how many other flip flops there will be.