Yesterday evening, as the Republican presidential candidates warmed up for their debate during the Presidency 5 convention in Orlando, I had the opportunity to sit down with former U.S. Senator and current Republican primary candidate George LeMieux , who is running to replace Democrat Bill Nelson in the 2012 election. Below are his answers to a series of questions of concern to Floridians and to all Americans. Due to the length of the interview, it is being published in three segments. Please, be sure to read every part, to learn more about his position on the issues.
Blas: Congressman David Rivera from South Florida has introduced several bills in the U.S. House of Representatives that make it more difficult for Cubans who enter the U.S. as refugees to travel back to Cuba. What is your position on this issue?
LeMieux: I’m not familiar with Congressman Rivera’s proposals. But my view on the Cuban regime is that we should be doing everything that we can to promote freedom in Cuba. What we don’t want to do is trade with Cuba and put dollars into Cuba that are going to help the dictatorship. If you want to open up trade with Cuba, you only have to look at the fact that Cuba has open trade with Canada and Europe and that hasn’t done anything to improve the human rights situation and civil liberties situation in Cuba. Right now we have our brothers and sisters there who are being oppressed by the government without free elections, without individual freedoms. We shouldn’t allow it. We didn’t allow it in Libya, half-way around the world. We shouldn’t allow it 90 miles away from the United States.
Blas: During the Bush Administration there were limits on the ability of Cuban refugees to travel back to Cuba and send money to relatives in Cuba, which were removed by President Obama. Can you comment on that?
LeMieux: Well, I would ask my friends in the Cuban American community, I will talk with my friend Sen. Marco Rubio, and my friends Congressmen Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Mario Diaz-Balart. I always look for guidance from them on these issues.
Blas: What is your position on the use of Federal money to support high-speed rail projects in Florida?
LeMieux: I was opposed to adding $300 billion for high-speed rail to the Federal deficit for the fiscal year 2011. But, having said that, someone is going to get this money. The money has already been appropriated. I’d rather have the money come to Florida than to go some other state. So, I do not agree with the decision to return the money or refuse the money, because it won’t go back to help pay the debt. I will rather the money be spent here. As a Senator, I voted to repeal all frivolous spending that was taking place, but we couldn’t get those cuts passed in the Senate back then. I want to lower spending. I want to balance the budget but if the money is going to be spent, I’d rather have it spent here in Florida.