He didn’t exactly say it, but responses by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest to questions today about the possibility of President Obama visiting Cuba appeared designed to lay the basis for just such a visit.
Speaking at today’s briefing, Earnest pointedly declined to rule out a visit and sought to justify a possible Obama trip the Cuba even if the regime’s repressive tactics had not changed.
There’s nothing on the schedule right now. The president did hint that there will be senior government officials who will carry out the kind of work that’s indicative of two nations that are seeking to normalize their relations, so I certainly wouldn’t rule out a presidential visit.
I assume, like many Americans, he has seen that Cuba is a place where they have a beautiful climate and lots of fun things to do, so if there is an opportunity for the president to visit, he wouldn’t turn it down.
Asked if things would have to change in Cuba before Obama would visit, Earnest noted that the president visits other places with unsavory rulers, like China.
Meanwhile, following a threat by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., that Congress would not fund the administration’s planned embassy in Havana, Earnest said the White House might be able to establish it without Congress.
“It’s not clear to me that additional appropriations will be necessary to establish an embassy in Cuba, principally because there is already a diplomatic presence in Cuba,” Earnest said. But Earnest didn’t rule out a future appropriations request by the administration