Tags: Barack Obama | Castro-Cuba | mark sanford | travel | ban

Gizzi: Obama Ignores Rep. Sanford on Ending Cuban Travel Ban

By    |   Wednesday, 17 December 2014 10:12 PM

The White House never briefed nor gave advance notice to the congressman who first introduced legislation that contained a key component in the Obama administration's new agenda: an end to the 50-plus years old restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba.

Rep. Mark Sanford (R.-S.C.), who proposed lifting the travel ban during his first stint in the House (1994-2000), told Newsmax he was not included in the briefings of Democratic and Republican lawmakers by the administration shortly before the "open door" to Havana was announced by President Barack Obama on Wednesday.

Earlier on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told Newsmax that days before the announcement on Cuba, "[t]he President and members of his team convened a number of conversations with Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill about this policy change. And what I can tell you is there were Democrats and Republicans who were pleased about the anticipated announcement and there were Democrats and Republicans on the other side of this issue as well."

"I did not speak with him [Obama] and I wasn’t briefed by the White House," Sanford told Newsmax hours after the President’s announcement. He did say that Sen. Jeff Flake (R.-Ariz.) did tell him at the White House Christmas party for Members of Congress a week before that "he believed the President was going to be a change coming soon in our policy toward Cuba and it would include lifting the travel ban."

Flake, who came to the House in 2000 and was elected to the Senate in 2012, "took the travel ban bill when I left in 2000," said Sanford.

The South Carolina lawmaker recalled how he was "always narrowly focused on travel and from a liberty perspective. We have a constitutional right to travel, and it made no sense to me that Americans could buy tickets and fly anywhere in the world — North Korea, Syria, Iran — but not Cuba."

Sanford did, however, say he believed "saying you could travel was a different thing from formally recognizing a government and swapping ambassadors [which is also part of the new Obama policy]. It is more complex and I am not as certain about it as I am about lifting the travel ban."

But Sanford did endorse Obama’s decision to lift the trade embargo with Cuba. The former two-term governor of South Carolina recalled his own trip to Cuba "and talking to regular people and not just the people the Castro regime wanted you to talk to.

"The current policy allows the regime to blame the embargo for bad conditions rather than the fact their sorry Marxist economic policy. When you take away the embargo, you take away the excuse Castro is leaning on for not changing to a capitalist economy."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.



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The White House never briefed nor gave advance notice to the congressman who first introduced legislation that contained a key component in the Obama administration's new agenda: an end to the 50-plus years old restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba.
mark sanford, travel, ban
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2014-12-17
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 10:12 PM
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