Discusses Cuba During Visit To Miami
September 14, 2007.
MIAMI -- Republican presidential candidate
Fred Thompson blamed Democratic rival Hillary
Rodham Clinton on Friday for the publicity
surrounding his remark suggesting Cuban
immigrants are bringing suitcase bombs to
the United States.
When asked by Florida's WTVJ about the
perception in the Cuban-American community
about his comments, Thompson replied, "I
think that was a Hillary Clinton news release
that she put out or a statement that she
made trying to capitalize on something when
she knew better."
During a trip to South Carolina in June,
Thompson was talking about illegal immigration
from Cuba and elsewhere and said, "I
don't imagine they're coming here to bring
greetings from Castro. We're living in the
era of the suitcase bomb."
A day later, he posted an explanation on
his Web site, saying he was referring to
Cuban spies, not immigrants. Nevertheless,
Democrats, including Clinton, assailed him
for not understanding Cuban-Americans.
The Clinton campaign didn't immediately
respond to a request for comment.
On Friday, Thompson said, "Castro
is a state sponsor of terrorism. Our own
State Department has said that. Any state
sponsor of terrorism should not be allowed
to send people across the Mexican border
into our country illegally. It's just that
Earlier, Radio Mambi programming director
Armando Perez-Roura told Thompson that candidates
come to Miami's Little Havana, drink Cuban
coffee at the Versailles restaurant and
declare their support for a free Cuba. Yet
little has changed in Cuba under President
Fidel Castro. He asked how Thompson can
show he'll do more than just provide rhetoric.
Thompson replied that he was a friend of
Cuban-Americans during his eight years as
a Tennessee senator and visited the region.
"I understand the price that you have
paid. I know your leaders. One of the things
that I would do is stay in close contact
with your leaders and especially those in
Florida," Thompson said. "The
first thing that any president would have
to do is recognize the reality. And in this
case it's the reality of the fact that Castro
is a dictator and he suppresses his own
But he offered no specifics on how he would
change Cuban policy. Then he left the studio,
went to Versailles, posed with a cup of
Cuban coffee for television cameras and
promised during a 20-minute speech to maintain
the Cuban embargo.
The former "Law & Order"
actor also said he would increase radio
and television broadcasts to the communist
island and try to educate the rest of the
world about Castro.
Thompson also reaffirmed his pro-gun rights
stance when asked about a man who used an
AK-47 assault rifle to shoot four Miami-Dade
County police officers Thursday, killing
one. He said an assault weapon ban isn't
"We'll never be able to keep people
like that from getting their hands on weapons
and it does not result in a good thing to
disarm law abiding Americans," Thompson
At a later stop, Thompson addressed more
than 500 people in Cape Coral, a southwest
Florida city on the Gulf of Mexico. He talked
about the need for energy independence,
and after the speech said he would consider
oil drilling in the eastern Gulf as long
as it was environmental safe and was respectful
of people in the region.
"We've got to use all the resources
that are available to us," he said.