Cuban dissidents aren’t invited to that event (they’ll meet with Kerry later) — a fact Rubio called a “slap in the face” to democracy activists who are the “legitimate representatives of the Cuban people.”
Rubio’s speech will highlight other positions he’s been hammering on the campaign trail, including promises to rip up the recent deal to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions and re-impose sanctions on the Islamic Republic; designate Cuba as a state sponsor of terror; and present Fidel Castro with an ultimatum: choosing between rolling out “meaningful political and human rights reforms” or watching a President Rubio roll back newly reestablished diplomatic relations.
But this offer of inauguration tickets – a “symbol of solidarity between my administration and those who strive for freedom around the world,” according to excerpts of Rubio’s prepared comments – is a new piece of his foreign policy platform, and something Rubio says distinguishes him from Obama.
“President Obama has made no such effort to stand on the side of freedom,” Rubio is expected to say in his Friday speech. “He has been quick to deal with the oppressors, but slow to deal with the oppressed.”
Rubio’s remarks include references to promoting democratization and the free flow of information in Cuba, but he didn’t offer too much detail about bringing dissidents to Washington (including whether airfare, if he wins the White House, might be part of the invite).
Furthermore, it’s unclear where Rubio plans to draw the line at whom he considers a “freedom fighter.”
He will list Cuban, Iranian, and Chinese dissidents in his speech – but people from other parts of the world who self-define as freedom fighters in more controversial conflicts might not want to book their tickets to Washington, D.C., just yet.