- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 18, 2014

Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida who is seeking re-election as a Democrat, said Saturday that he supports lifting the U.S. embargo against Cuba — a notion that flies in the face of criticisms he’s made before.

“I have come to the conclusion that we need to lift the embargo,” the former Republican told reporters outside his campaign headquarters in Miami’s Little Havana, French news agency AFP reported.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,” he said of the Cold War-era sanctions on Cuba.

Mr. Crist said it would be “important” for him to visit Cuba himself, as a sort of fact-finding trip — an idea that contradicts statements he’s made as a Republican candidate.

During his 2006 campaign, Mr. Crist criticized Democratic opponent Jim Davis’ congressional trip to Cuba, saying that he would only personally visit the Communist-run country when “it’s free.”

Republican state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz of Miami criticized the gubernatorial candidate for what he says is the politicization of a very serious issue.

“There absolutely is a political calculation involved and that has upset a lot of people in Miami,” he said, the Associated Press reported. “He’s going to be in a state-led trip by the Castro regime.”

“Any trip Charlie Crist takes to Cuba will only serve to promote the Cuban dictatorship and their oppressive regime,” said Republican Gov. Rick Scott in a statement. “If he’s interested in helping a dictatorship, that’s his choice. I’m focused on helping Florida families and standing with our Cuban community, not against it.”

Fernand Amandi, a Miami-based pollster, said there is growing support among Cuban-Americans for lifting the embargo. Still, he told AP, “I think he’d be wise to consult with leaders of the Cuban exile community before coming to a definitive decision on whether this is the right move or not.”

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