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CNN Poll: Americans side with Obama on Cuba

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WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Barack Obama is taking some heat from Republicans on Capitol Hill for reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, but a CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday shows he has the public’s backing.

About six in 10 Americans favor diplomatic relations with Cuba and two-thirds want the travel restrictions to the island lifted, according to the poll of 1,011 Americans conducted after Obama announced a landmark deal with Cuba to relax sanctions and ease some travel restrictions.

Obama relaxed some sanctions and gave a green light to establish an embassy in Havana, but he can’t end the embargo against Cuba outright without Congressional approval. More than half of Americans surveyed — 55% — want the embargo lifted.

Republican members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee like Sens. Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham of Florida and South Carolina, respectively, said last week they will pull all the stops to undercut Obama’s steps to normalize relations, vowing to hold up funds for the embassy and keep Obama’s nominee for ambassador to Cuba from clearing the Senate.

Rubio, whose parents emigrated from Cuba, has led the charge against Obama’s accord with Cuba and President Raul Castro, charging Obama with giving away a huge chunk of the U.S.’s leverage to spur political reform in the country.

But supporters of the deal to normalize relations say more diplomatic and economic engagement is the key to opening up Cuban society and encouraging democratization.

Regardless, Americans continue to have an unfavorable view of Cuba’s former leader Fidel Castro, with 81% holding a negative opinion of the former leader and brother of the country’s current president.

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