In 2010, Terry McAuliffe, now the Democratic governor of Virginia, made a trip to the Caribbean communist island Cuba to sell “Virginia wine and apples” according to a 2013 Washington Post story by Peter Wallsten and Carol Leonnig.
The trip turned out to be bust for McAuliffe, but in more ways than one. Cuban officials scoffed at McAuliffe’s sales pitch and he faced heat once he returned from Cuba.
“The Cubans scoffed at his propositions during the April 2010 visit, unmoved by the full-frontal style of persuasion that has long powered McAuliffe’s success as an investor and political rainmaker,” Wallsten and Leonnig wrote. “Cuban officials not only rejected McAuliffe, but in meeting after meeting lectured him about the supposed ill effects of the U.S. trade embargo on the island nation.”
Those revelations were brought up in the heat of the 2013 gubernatorial election contest McAuliffe was facing against Republican Ken Cuccinelli, but they have resurfaced as both Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump candidates are trying to make inroads with Cuban-Americans in Florida to win the swing state’s coveted 29 electoral votes this November.
After Trump made a pitch to those Cuban-Americans in Miami’s Little Havana on Tuesday, then later in that evening in Melbourne, FL, Newsweek published a story alleging Trump’s company through the services of Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corp., a consulting firm, attempted in 1998 to line up business on the Caribbean communist island of Cuba, which at the time would have been illegal.
According to Ian Sams, who is serving in the Clinton campaign, Clinton reacted by condemning Trump for putting his “personal and business interests ahead of the laws, values and policy of the United States.”
.@HillaryClinton on Trump-Cuba story: "He puts his personal & business interests ahead of the laws, values & policy of the United States."
— Ian Sams (@IanSams) September 29, 2016
McAuliffe, a longtime confidante of both Bill and Hillary Clinton and someone described as having a “significant behind-the-scenes role” by Politico’s Gabriel Debenedetti earlier this summer, may have done the same and have gotten entrée to Cuban officials because of his association with Clintons according to the Post story.
Kirby Jones, described as a “longtime Cuba expert” by Wallsten and Leonnig in the piece, said the Cuban government knew McAuliffe was “no ordinary visitor” because he had ties to Hillary Clinton, who at the time was serving in Obama administration.
“He’s close to the Clintons, and everybody knows that,” Jones said to the Post. “And Hillary Clinton was secretary of state at the time, so naturally there’s an interest.”
According to the story, a spokesman for Clinton denied knowledge of McAuliffe’s trip at the time.
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