In speech, Rubio slams Obama’s outreach to Iran and Cuba

FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2015, file photo, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., steps on the stage to speak at the RedState Gathering in Atlanta. Rubio will lay out a strategy on Friday, Aug. 14, to deal with the "tyrannical regimes" of Cuba and Iran, the same day Secretary of State John Kerry attends a historic flag-raising ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Havana. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — As a U.S. flag flies over the American embassy in Havana for the first time since 1961, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio is vowing to roll back the administration’s new Cuba policy on his first day in office.

In a speech to a conservative-leaning foreign policy group in New York today, Rubio described the administration’s approach to Cuba as a dangerous shift that gives the Castro regime international legitimacy. And he says Cuban leaders will also get more resources with which to repress the Cuban people.

The Florida senator also attacked the recent Iran nuclear deal — and said the policies on Cuba and Iran are evidence of what he called “every flawed strategic, moral and economic notion” driving President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.

Rubio says Obama “has been quick to deal with the oppressors, but slow to deal with the oppressed.”

The Cuban-American lawmaker has made foreign policy a centerpiece of his campaign for president.

In his speech, he said he would return Cuba to the list of state sponsors of terrorism. And he said Cuba would lose its new diplomatic and economic benefits with the U.S., unless it enacted “meaningful political and human rights reforms.”

The Obama administration says dealing directly with Cuba over issues including human rights and trade is far more likely to produce reforms.

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