President Joe Biden needs to bolster his response to Cuba’s protests if he wants to avoid losing Florida again in 2024, political strategists are warning.
The Hill noted Friday that Biden, who has imposed harsher sanctions on the Cuban government and has met with Cuban-American leaders, is also exploring ways to possibly restore internet access on the communist island.
Still, experts tell the outlet that may not be enough to avoid losing ground to Florida Republicans on the issue.
In 2020, Biden lost Florida by 3 percentage points. The Hill pointed out that 55% of Cuban American voters in Florida backed then-President Donald Trump.
“I think that the Biden administration is very sensitive and very responsive on the substance of the policy; I wish that they were equally sensitive and responsive on the politics,” said Ana Navarro, a longtime Republican strategist who supported Biden in 2020. “The moment is passing, but if and when they get ready to make significant policy announcements related to the internet, either the president or the vice president or the secretary of state, or somebody at that level should be doing it in Miami.”
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas is scheduled to go to Miami next week to meet with Cuban Americans and stress Biden’s commitment to the protesters.
Democrats struggled in Florida in last year’s races. In Miami-Dade, home to many Cubans, two incumbent members of Congress were defeated, in part, “because of lackluster and inconsistent response to criticisms that Democrats are soft on socialism and communism,” according to Politico.
With Republicans calling on Biden to support the protesters and denounce the Cuban government, the longer the administration fails to act feeds into the GOP narrative.
Before leaving office, Trump’s administration in January re-designated Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism,” hitting the country with new sanctions.
Meanwhile, Michael Bustamente, a professor of Cuban American Studies at the University of Miami., told The Hill: “I think the Republican Party has become masters at capitalizing on Cuban-related issues for domestic political purposes.”