Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on Sunday criticized President Obama’s foreign policy shift on Cuba and extended his disagreement with fellow GOP Sen. Rand Paul on the issue, sounding increasingly like a 2016 White House contender.
Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, argued that the Castro regime intends to reap the economic benefits of the U.S. easing commercial and travel restrictions with no intentions of improving human rights conditions and moving toward democracy.
“It will grow [Cuba’s] economy, but it won’t grow political freedom,” Rubio said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Rubio and Paul, a Kentucky Republican and another likely 2016 presidential contender, have been involved in a Twitter exchange since Obama announced the Cuba plan Wednesday.
Paul recently said Rubio, by opposing the Cuba plan, was “acting like an isolationist,” a criticism often directed at Paul.
Rubio said Sunday that Paul's support for the Cuba plan makes him “the chief cheerleader for Obama’s foreign policy.”
“I’m going to continue to oppose the … Obama-Paul foreign policy,” he told ABC.
In response, Senator Paul's adviser, Doug Stafford, said Rubio's foreign policy approach has made the world less safe.
"With all due respect, Senator Marco Rubio was captain of the GOP cheerleading team for Obama's arming of Syrian rebels, bombing Libya resulting in a jihadist wonderland, and illegally giving foreign aid to Egypt's military government," Stafford wrote in an email to FoxNews.com on Sunday night. "The Rubio-Obama foreign policy has made the Middle East and North Africa less safe."
Rubio also repeated his qualified support for former Florida GOP Gov. Jeb Bush if he decides to get into the 2016 race.
“I have tremendous respect for Jeb Bush,” Rubio told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And I think if he runs, he will be a very credible and strong candidate.”
Bush said Tuesday that he will “actively explore” a White House bid and that he will start a leadership Political Action Committee toward that effort.
Rubio acknowledged again Sunday that he is “thinking” about a 2016 bid but said his decision will not hinge on who is entering the race.
“What you have to make your decision on is not on who is running, it's on whether you think that's the right place to achieve your agenda and serve your country,” he said.