Rand Paul Says Cuba Embargo Didn't Work

The comments set the Kentucky Republican apart from many in his party, including other potential contenders for the 2016 presidential nomination.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul speaks at the Defending the American Dream Summit sponsored by Americans For Prospertity at the Omni Hotel on August 29, 2014 in Dallas

Photographer: Mike Stone/Getty Images

Senator Rand Paul said Thursday that trade with Cuba is "probably a good idea" and that the embargo "hasn't worked," according to the Associated Press.

The comments set the Kentucky Republican apart from many in his party, including other potential contenders for the 2016 presidential nomination.

"The 50-year embargo just hasn't worked," Paul said on a West Virginia radio show, according to the AP. "If the goal is regime change, it sure doesn't seem to be working and probably it punishes the people more than the regime because the regime can blame the embargo for hardship. In the end, I think opening up Cuba is probably a good idea." 

Senator Marco Rubio and former Governor Jeb Bush, both Florida Republicans, decried President Barack Obama's announcement on Wednesday that the U.S. will normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba after a decades-long freeze.

"I don't think we should be negotiating with a repressive regime to make changes in our relationship," said Bush, who on Tuesday announced that he plans to explore a possible 2016 bid.

Rubio promised to "unravel" as much as possible of the measure. 

"I don't care if 99 percent of people in polls disagree with my position," Rubio said. "This is my position and I feel passionately about it. And I'm glad I'm on the side of freedom and democracy. I'm glad I'm on the side of human rights."

Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who is of Cuban heritage like Rubio, called the decision a "tragic mistake."

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