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Florida politicians help Ryan woo Hispanics

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., the Republican vice presidential candidate, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., share a laugh with waitress Lourdes Alcerro during a campaign stop Saturday at Versailles restaurant in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami.

MIAMI -- Paul Ryan made a direct appeal to the large Hispanic population in south Florida on Saturday morning as he spoke inside the popular Versailles Restaurant with several prominent Florida politicians.

“I learned from these friends, from Mario, from Lincoln, from Ileana, just how brutal the Castro regime is, just how this president's policy of appeasement is not working,” Ryan said standing next to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the chairwoman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.


Ryan vowed to the crowd, which sang “God Bless America” upon the congressman’s arrival: “In a Mitt Romney administration, we will not keep practicing this policy of appeasement; we will be tough on this brutal dictator; all it has done is rewarded more despotism … we will help those pro-democracy groups. We will be tough on Castro, tough on Chavez. And it’s because we know that's the right policy for our country."

These words mark Ryan’s first comments on how a President Romney would handle relations with Cuba.

Several dozen turned out to see the Republican vice presidential nominee on a rainy morning in Miami and Ryan was sure to give a shout-out to the popular Republican leaders from the area, including Sen. Marco Rubio, and two brothers who spoke to the crowd ahead of Ryan, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and former Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart.

Bush, introducing Ryan, helped the Wisconsin native learn a little Spanish.

"I need to teach Paul one word in Spanish,” the brother of former President George W. Bush and son of former President George H. W. Bush said. “Here we call this ‘una aguacera.’ This was just a little tropical rainstorm.”

Romney's youngest son, Craig, was also on hand and addressed the crowd in Spanish as many of the other politicians did as well.

Ryan began his visit to the famous Cuban establishment by enjoying a cup of Café Colatta with the former governor and Rep. Ros-Lehtinen but wasted no time attacking President Barack Obama during his speech to Floridians.

“Just a couple days ago on Univision, President Obama admitted that he can't change Washington from the inside. Why do we send presidents to the White House in the first place?” he asked. “I mean, we send presidents to change and fix the mess in Washington. And if this president has admitted that he can't change Washington, then you know what, we need to change presidents."

Ryan mingled his way thru the packed restaurant after his brief remarks and even insisted on giving the woman running against Democratic National Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz a hug.

Saturday’s appearance in the Sunshine State marked Ryan’s sixth public event as the Romney-Ryan ticket tries to win the state’s 29 electoral votes in November.

Bush made a bold prediction about his state as he spoke to reporters following the event: “Romney is going to carry Florida.”