Before President Trump delivered remarks announcing his decision to partially reverse the Obama administration's Cuba policy on Friday, Florida Senator Marco Rubio took to the podium to issue a full-throated endorsement.
In his own remarks, Rubio drew a stark and powerful comparison between Trump and his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, juxtaposing the two leaders' varying approaches to the island nation's repressive government.
"It struck me as the plane landed and we were getting into the cars that brought us here, and we look at the president coming down the steps," Rubio recalled, "he was greeted by dissidents, by freedom fighters, by people, some of whom and on the island of Cuba have suffered greatly in the hands of this repressive regime."
"And less than a year and a half ago," the senator continued, "an American president landed in Havana, greeted by a regime. A year and a half ago, a president, an American president, landed in Havana, to outstretch his hand to a regime."
"Today," said Rubio, "a new president lands in Miami to reach out his hand to the people of Cuba."
Rubio, whose parents immigrated to the United States, concluded the address on an optimistic note, assuring the audience gathered in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood that Cuba would one day achieve freedom. "And you mark my words," he declared, "Whether it's in six months, or six years, Cuba will be free."
"And when it is, I believe that the people on the island and history will say, that perhaps the key moment in that transition began on this day, here in this theater, with each of you, and with a president that was willing to do what needed to be done so that freedom and liberty returns to the enslaved island of Cuba," Rubio predicted, drawing enthusiastic cheers of approval from the audience.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.