Cruz: Obama gave Castro 'economic lifeline'

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP senators introduce bill targeting Palestinian 'martyr payments' Bob Dole: heroic, prickly and effective Democrats see Christmas goal slipping away MORE (R-Texas), a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, assailed President Obama Wednesday for announcing steps toward normalized relations with Cuba.

“Fidel and Raul Castro have just received both international legitimacy and a badly-needed economic lifeline from President Obama. But they remain in control of a totalitarian police state modeled on their old state sponsor, the Soviet Union,” Cruz said in a statement.

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Cruz joined other 2016 White House hopefuls, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), in criticizing the administration for moving toward loosening a 50-year trade embargo.

He said the Communist regime in Cuba maintains close ties with America’s antagonists, Russia, Iran, North Korea and Venezuela and predicted it would give future support to terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

Cruz, whose father was born in Cuba, lumped Obama’s new policy stance with the troubled efforts to improve relations with Russia and Iran.

“Obama’s attempt to ‘reset’ the relationship with Russia in his first term yielded little tangible result as Russian President Vladimir Putin is now more bellicose toward the United States than at any time. And a nuclear deal with Iran remains elusive despite an easing of sanctions.

“If history be our guide, the Castros will exploit that power to undermine America and oppress the Cuban people. First Russia, then Iran, now Cuba — this is one more very, very bad deal brokered by the Obama administration,” he said.

Cruz reiterated his arguments in an interview on Fox News, telling host Neil Cavuto that Obama’s announcement “will be remembered as a tragic mistake.”

He also discussed the role played by Pope Francis, who urged Obama in a rare personal letter to mend relations with Cuba to “resolve humanitarian questions of common interest.

"I certainly respect the pope in his sphere of influence, but I will say this, when it comes to foreign policy and the national security interests of the United States, the president should be focused on exactly that," he said.

Jesse Byrnes contributed. 

This story was updated at 5:23 p.m.