Republican nominee for president Donald Trump seemingly shifted his position this week on opening up relations with Cuba, moving his stance on an issue that is important to a large bloc of voters in the crucial swing state of Florida. Trump warned he could reverse the steps taken by the administration of President Barack Obama, who has worked to normalize relations with the communist country.
Trump was asked if he would repeal some of Obama's executive orders on Cuba and walk back the changes in diplomatic relations in an interview on Sunday with local Miami station WFOR-TV.
"Look, Cuba has to treat us fairly and it has to treat the people of Cuba fairly and the people living here that were from Cuba or their families were from Cuba," Trump said. "The agreement President Obama signed is a very weak agreement. We get nothing. The people of Cuba get nothing and I would do whatever is necessary to get a good agreement."
He later added, "people want an agreement, I like the idea of an agreement" but it needed to be "strong."
The comments come amid a three-day push from Trump in Florida, during which he's set to host five rallies. It's an all-out blitz on the state in which he's falling behind to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
The most recent survey from CBS/ YouGov had Clinton up 3 points in the Sunshine State, while the Real Clear Politics average of polls has her up 3.8 percentage points in a four-way race. The polls-only election forecast from data-driven website FiveThirtyEight gives Clinton a 74 percent chance of winning the state and capturing it's 29 electoral votes. Florida is considered a "must win" for Trump to be competitive in the race.
This most recent comments from Trump on Cuba seem to be a bit of a harder line than past statements in which he broke rank with other GOP candidates in supporting the Cuba deal, which normalized relations between the two countries and included the U.S. removing Cuba from its terror watch list.
"I think it’s fine," Trump said in an interview last year with the conservative site the Daily Caller. "I think it’s fine, but we should have made a better deal. The concept of opening with Cuba — 50 years is enough — the concept of opening with Cuba is fine."
Trump has struggled to win over Cuban-American voters, a bloc that has traditionally supported Republicans in the past. Cuban-Americans make up some 8 percent of the Florida electorate, according to some estimates. Trump was not helped by reports that he illegally did business in Cuba before relations were normalized, breaking the U.S. embargo with the country. That would be a major indiscretion to a number of Cuban-Americans who still harbor resentment toward the Fidel Castro regime.
Recent polls have shown Clinton up by 30 percentage points in Miami-Dade County in Florida, the state's largest county. That's especially telling considering 72 percent of Republicans in Miami-Dade are Hispanic, the vast majority of whom are Cuban-Americans.