President-elect Donald Trump called Miami-Dade’s mayor Saturday to express his “solidarity” with the Cuban-American community in the wake of Fidel Castro’s death, a county spokesman said.
“Can confirm that @MayorGimenez spoke with President-elect Donald Trump regarding the passing of Fidel Castro,” Gimenez spokesman Michael Hernández posted on Twitter at 11:41 a.m. “The President-elect expressed his support for and solidarity with the Cuban-American community.”
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The call to the Cuban-born Gimenez, a Republican who supported Hillary Clinton, followed dueling statements from Trump and President Obama on Castro’s death. Obama’s statement contained no direct criticism of Castro, writing instead about the “countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation.”
Trump took a far harsher tone with Castro in a statement more aligned with sentiment in Miami-Dade, the unofficial capital of Cuba’s exile community. After a tweet stating bluntly “Fidel Castro is dead!,” he issued a statement that said Castro’s “legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.”
Cuban-Americans formed the strongest base of Trump’s support among Hispanics, with polls showing him leading in that Miami-Dade constituency. His statement noted that support, along with the backing he won from the Miami-based veterans group of Bay of Pigs soldiers, which broke with tradition to make their first presidential endorsement in the history of the organization.
“I join the many Cuban Americans who supported me so greatly in the presidential campaign, including the Brigade 2506 Veterans Association that endorsed me, with the hope of one day soon seeing a free Cuba,” Trump wrote.
Trump and Gimenez know each other. The two played golf twice before Trump began his presidential run, when the mogul was interested in taking over a county golf course in Crandon Park. The deal fizzled, but not before Trump donated $15,000 to Gimenez’s 2016 reelection campaign — a contribution Gimenez returned after Trump’s incendiary remarks on illegal Mexican immigrants at the start of his presidential campaign.