The spat between Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky over President Obama’s attempt to normalize U.S.-Cuba relations spilled into the weekend, surfacing on the Sunday talk show circuit this morning.
“Rand, if he wants to become the chief cheerleader of Obama’s foreign policy, he certainly has a right to do that,” Rubio said on ABC’s “This Week” of Paul’s support for the president’s strategy on the Communist state. He added:
I’m going to continue to oppose the Obama-Paul foreign policy on Cuba because I know it won’t lead to freedom and liberty for the Cuban people, which is my sole interest here.
The two Republicans, both potential 2016 presidential contenders, have been going back and forth on the issue since Obama announced last week that the United States will work to re-establish diplomatic relations and ease the 50-year embargo with Cuba.
The feud underscores tensions within the Republican Party over foreign policy that will continue to play out in the 2016 GOP primary.
>>> Commentary: Obama’s Cuba Policy Shows He’s Listening to International Left
The debate began Thursday, when Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, attacked Paul for having “no idea what he’s talking about” in supporting Obama’s decision to give the Castro regime diplomatic legitimacy and access to American dollars.
Paul shot back at the Florida senator, tweeting on Friday:
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 (@SenRandPaul) December 19, 2014
Both senators also penned op-eds on the issue.
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Rubio argued on Wednesday that Obama’s policy is “bad news for the Cuban people living under a dictatorship, and it sends a dangerous message to the world.”
On Friday, Paul wrote in TIME:
I support engagement, diplomacy, and trade with Cuba, China, Vietnam, and many countries with less than stellar human rights records, because I believe that once enslaved people taste freedom and see the products of capitalism they will become hungry for freedom themselves.
Rubio made appearances on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” CBS’ “Face the Nation” and ABC’s “This Week,” slamming what he now calls an “Obama-Paul” Cuba policy.
Watch the clip to see highlights from his interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.