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Presidential Candidates Weigh In on US Cuba Policy

FILE - Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks at the Georgia Republican Convention.

FILE - Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks at the Georgia Republican Convention.

Most of the candidates currently seeking the Republican Party's nomination for president have been long been opposed to the Obama administration's moves toward re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba.

"The beneficiaries of President [Barack] Obama’s ill-advised move will be the heinous Castro brothers who have oppressed the Cuban people for decades," former Florida Governor Jeb Bush wrote on Facebook after Obama announced in December he wanted to end the long-standing U.S. trade embargo against Cuba with an eye on reestablishing diplomatic ties.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said Cuban President Raul Castro and his brother, former leader Fidel, “have just received both international legitimacy and a badly needed economic lifeline from President Obama."

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, was also strongly opposed, saying the U.S. policy shift was "based on an illusion. On a lie. The lie and the illusion that more access to goods will translate to political freedom for the Cuban people."

Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina, vowed to mount an effort to prevent the use of funds for a U.S. embassy to open in Havana.

"I will do all in my power to block the use of funds to open an embassy in Cuba. Normalizing relations with Cuba is bad idea at a bad time," Graham wrote on Twitter.

'Probably a good idea'

Other candidates have issued similar statements although Kentucky Senator Rand Paul bucked the trend, saying, "In the end, I think opening up Cuba is probably a good idea."

Rand Paul's father, former Congressman Ron Paul, was a longtime critic of the past U.S. policies on Cuba.

On the Democratic side, frontrunner Hillary Clinton has been a strong supporter of the administration's decision to seek normalized relations with Cuba.

"Despite good intentions, our decades-long policy of isolation has only strengthened the Castro regime's grip on power," said Clinton, a former Secretary of State. "As I have said, the best way to bring change to Cuba is to expose its people to the values, information, and material comforts of the outside world.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont echoed those sentiments. "It is time for Cuba and the United States to turn the page and normalize relations,” he said.

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