November 9, 2012 | 8:14am
Now we know why Mitt Romney released a last minute campaign ad in South Florida trying to link Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro to Barack Obama. It was a desperation.
Romney knew he had to to stave off the biggest surprise of the presidential election in Florida: Nearly half of Miami-Dade's Cuban American voters decided to stick with the President.
The Massachusetts governor must have known that an October 28 poll in the Miami Herald was way off. It showed 76 percent of Cuban Americans in Miami-Dade were going to cast ballots for Romney.
The election proved that Cuban American politicians need to start changing their tune if they want to stay in power. Considering the following:
On election day, Obama won the Cuban-American vote 53 percent to 47 percent over Romney, according to an exit poll by Bendixen & Amandi International. Exit polls by Fox News and The Pew Hispanic Center showed the president winning 49 percent of the overall Cuban vote to Romney's 47 percent. According to Fox, the Tea Party's number one source of information, Obama gained 13 percent more Cuban Americans than in 2008.
Just as interesting are the liberal Cuban Americans who won Tuesday. Democratic candidate Joe Garcia pounded incumbent Congresman David Rivera by 11 points. Sure Rivera lost voters because he's under two federal investigations, but his opponent favors allowing Cuban Americans to travel to their homeland and easing other restrictions against Castro. Garcia also registered more new voters than Rivera before the election.
Jose Javier Rodriguez, another Democratic Cuban American who favors Obama's moderate Cuba policy, killed Republican hardliner Alex Diaz de la Portilla 54 percent to 46 percent.
And Juan Carlos Zapata, a former state legislator, became the first non-Cuban Hispanic since Maurice Ferre to be elected to the County Commission.
The Tea Party faithful, like ABC/Newsweek pundit George Will, are quickly anointing Sen. Marco Rubio as the G.O.P's Great Brown Hope. His name is at the top of the Republican nominee list for 2016. But Rubio better watch out if he keeps messing with Cuban-Americans' desire to visit and help their relatives in Cuba. He's also opposed to the DREAM Act, which would allow hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to stay in the country.
We all know Rubio can't relate to the 70 percent of Hispanics who voted to re-elect Obama. He's just like recently ousted Congressman Allen West, an African-American in Tea Party clothing. Rubio represents the dying Cuban American hardliners who are trying to push the same right wing agenda Romney was campaigning on.
If Marco keeps that crap up, he won't get re-elected in 2014.