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Romney says Miami robocalls misstate his Cuba policy

January 28, 2008 |  7:04 pm

On the eve of the crucial Florida Republican primary, supporters of  Mitt Romney in the Miami area reported receiving Spanish-language robocalls that falsely claimed the former Massachusetts governor supports opening relations with Fidel Castro and Cuba, according to Romney's state campaign chairman Al Cardenas.

“It’s despicable, it’s dirty and they should be ashamed of themselves,” Cardenas told The Times' Seema Mehta.

Cardenas said the calls started after former state department official Roger Noriega, a Romney supporter, appeared on Miami radio stations discussing Romney’s Cuba policy on Saturday morning. The campaign is trying to figure out who is behind the calls, but it is “improbable” that it is any campaign other than rival John McCain’s, Cardenas charged.

A spokeswoman for the McCain campaign denied any connection. "These are not our calls," Jill Hazelbaker told The Times Maeve Reston.

Cardenas said Romney and McCain were the only two candidates who had done automated calls in the Miami area, and the lower-tier candidates were not competitive in the race and had no reason to spend money on such calls.

The Romney campaign’s robocalls have concerned McCain’s legislative history supporting campaign finance and immigration reforms and fighting global warming.

“That’s fair game,” Cardenas said. “Anything about Mitt Romney’s record is fair game. But to make that outlandish [Castro] claim is dirty pool in a community that obviously has been traumatized by this issue.”

Maybe it was Castro himself since he's not got much to do these days from his hospital bed.

--Andrew Malcolm

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