Obama plans first presidential visit to Cuba in more than 88 years


What do Barack Obama and Calvin Coolidge have in common? Other than their serious demeanor, soon they’ll be the last two sitting U.S. presidents to have visited Cuba.

ABC News reported President Obama was planning a trip to the island nation in the next few weeks as part of his ongoing effort to normalize diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S.

ABC cited “sources with knowledge of the plan” in its report, saying the National Security Council would announce the trip in a White House briefing Thursday.

The announcement comes as The New York Times reports Cuban officials are in Washington, D.C. for talks with the U.S. Department of Commerce at expanding business opportunities. The president has loosened some of the economic and travel restrictions on Cuba, but much is still limited by a statutory embargo that only Congress has the power to lift.

It didn’t take long for word of Obama’s proposed visit to make a splash in the presidential race, especially since two of the top Republican candidates, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, are of Cuban descent. Both candidates commented on the trip during a CNN South Carolina Republican town hall Wednesday night.

“The Cuban government remains as oppressive as ever,” Rubio said, adding he would not visit the country as president unless it was “a free Cuba.”

“I fear by the end of this year President Obama plans to give the Guantanamo Navy Base back to Cuba,” Cruz said, jumping to the only logical conclusion. “I hope he doesn’t do that.”

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