Two Republican Senators who are each eyeing the 2016 presidential nomination have squared off against each other on the topic of President Barack Obama's normalization of relations with the island nation of Cuba.
On Thursday, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio announced that he is forming a caucus among Republicans that will be dedicated to fighting the president's new plans for U.S.-Cuba relations.
Rubio attacked not only President Obama but Pope Francis, who helped broker the deal that ended the nearly half-century of economic inactivity between the U.S. and one of its closest neighbors.
When Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) countered that the opening of Cuba to trade with the U.S. could provide economic opportunities and growth between the two countries, Rubio took to Fox News to call the Libertarian-leaning Paul clueless on the topic.
“Like many people who have been opining, he has no idea what he’s talking about,” Rubio said Thursday.
“I would expect that people would understand that if they just took a moment to analyze that, they would realize that the embargo is not what’s hurting the Cuban people, it’s the lack of freedom and the lack of competent leaders,” said Rubio, who is the son of Cuban immigrants.
Paul struck back via Twitter on Friday, saying that the embargo isn't helping the U.S. or Cuba and pointing out that the U.S. does business with other communist regimes.
Hey @marcorubio if the embargo doesn't hurt Cuba, why do you want to keep it?— Senator Rand Paul (@Senator Rand Paul) 1419011106.0
Senator @marcorubio is acting like an isolationist who wants to retreat to our borders and perhaps build a moat. I reject this isolationism.— Senator Rand Paul (@Senator Rand Paul) 1419011208.0
The United States trades and engages with other communist nations, such as China and Vietnam. So @marcorubio why not Cuba?— Senator Rand Paul (@Senator Rand Paul) 1419011315.0
Finally, Paul asked Rubio why he opposes a deal which so many Cuban-Americans support.
.@marcorubio what about the majority of Cuban-Americans who now support normalizing relations between our countries? http://t.co/0qhSOeD9Va— Senator Rand Paul (@Senator Rand Paul) 1419011476.0
Rubio's Twitter account has been inactive for nearly a week.