Romney Bungles Castro Quote in Miami

Mitt Romney used a famous line from Fidel Castro in support of a “free Cuba,” creating a minor stir with a Miami audience.

People chuckled when presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a Mormon raised in Michigan and elected in Massachusetts, bungled the names of Cuban-American politicians during a recent speech in Miami. But when he mistakenly associated Fidel Castro’s trademark speech-ending slogan — Patria o muerte, venceremos! — with a free Cuba, listeners didn’t laugh. They winced.

Castro has closed his speeches with the phrase — in English, ”Fatherland or death, we shall overcome” — for decades. ”Clearly, that’s something he was ill-advised on or didn’t do his homework on,” said Hialeah City Council President Esteban Bovo. “When you get cute with slogans, you get yourself into a trap.”

[…]

Romney delivered a speech to the Miami-Dade Republican Party March 9 that was heavy on anti-communist rhetoric but light on policy details. He also condemned the Venezuelan president who has embraced Castro. That’s when he tripped. ”Hugo Chávez has tried to steal an inspiring phrase — Patria o muerte, venceremos,” Romney said. “It does not belong to him. It belongs to a free Cuba.”

No, it doesn’t, said University of Miami Professor Jaime Suchlicki. ”It belongs to Fidel,” said Suchlicki, an expert on Cuban history. “I don’t know where [Romney] got that.”

Bill Jempty notes that, “Courting the Cuban vote by quoting Fidel just won’t work.” On the other hand, the fact that this is just making the Miami papers ten days after the speech is probably a pretty fair indication that it’s not that big a deal.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Anderson says:

    On the other hand, the fact that this is just making the Miami papers ten days after the speech is probably a pretty fair indication that it’s not that big a deal.

    That is about how long it takes the Anglos to notice what the Cubanos are up to.

  2. legion says:

    I think it’s more of a sign of how long it takes _anyone_ to notice what Mitt Romney’s up to…

  3. Triumph says:

    That is about how long it takes the Anglos to notice what the Cubanos are up to.

    Anderson is correct. I heard Francisco Aruca talking about this on his radio show early last week.

  4. Conservative Gladiator says:

    Here’s what was actually said and please let’s not try to parse words or use other “journalists” propoganda to take it’s place.

    Romney: “I said at the outset that the threat in Latin America is unprecedented. I say that because the Castros have a second tyrant and he has great wealth, from oil. We must stand just as firm against caudillos like Hugo Chavez, tutored by Fidel Castro. Chavez and Castro are brothers in blood, intent on personal gratification at the expense of their people. Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro have stolen the phrase — ‘Patria o muerte, venceremos.’ This phrase should not be used by dictators, but by liberators.

    “There are two spheres of influence in the Western Hemisphere. One is dark, bellicose and spreads misery by denying people basic freedoms; the other shines like a powerful light, is peaceful and wants only for its people to live in liberty and prosper.

    CG: Get a life people…there’s nothing there.

  5. Triumph says:

    I apologize for a tedious and pedantic comment, and obviously my perspective as a trial lawyer is different than the one from which your original post was made.

    Trial lawyer, eh.. Just like John “Pretty Boy” Edwards. We all know about HIS integrity!

  6. Why can’t you recognize that Beth Reinhard’s account of the speech is a hack job? When you read what Romney actually said, as quoted by CG from the transcript at Romney’s Web site, you see that there was nothing for the audience to wince about. Romney was clearly turning Castro’s phrase against him — a time-honored rhetorical device put to good use here.

  7. James Joyner says:

    the transcript at Romney’s Web site is hardly an unbiased source. Further, at best, it is merely the written version of what Romney what supposed to say, not what he actually said.