This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal

Hours after his Senate colleague and fellow Cuban-American Marco Rubio criticized President Obama's change in U.S. policy on Cuba, Ted Cruz broke his silence on the news with a bang, calling the decision "a tragic mistake."

The Republican senator from Texas told Fox News' Neil Cavuto on Wednesday afternoon that because of the American embargo and diplomatic freeze-out, Cuba had been "gasping for air." Now, though, Obama's policy shift would have devastating effects.

"Just like the administration did with Iran, right when the [Iranian] administration was feeling the maximum pain, [Obama] throws them an economic lifeline and continues the brutal repression and dictatorship of the Castro brothers," said Cruz, whose father emigrated from Cuba in 1957, four years before the U.S. imposed a strict trade embargo on the country.

When Cavuto pointed out that more than five decades of the same policy hadn't been very effective, Cruz demurred. "What it has wrought is limiting the impact and harm of Cuba," he said.

Cruz also criticized the president's foreign policy strategy as a whole, slamming what he called Obama's inability to discern the "difference between our friends and our enemies."

"This president believes appeasement works," he said. "When it comes to dealing with tyrants and bullies, whether it is [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, whether it is Iran, or whether it is the Castros in Cuba, he believes that a position of weakness is how we should negotiate, and that doesn't work."

Cruz, a likely 2016 candidate, made sure to contrast the "Obama-Clinton-Kerry foreign policy," as he called it—a new spin on his usual "Obama-Clinton" line—with his own doctrine of "peace through strength." And in another reminder of his seemingly inevitable run for the presidency, Cruz told Cavuto that in 2016, Republicans shouldn't nominate another moderate candidate—presumably like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who announced Tuesday that he is seriously considering a White House bid.

"What we're doing isn't working," Cruz said. "If we nominate another candidate in the mold of a Bob Dole or John McCain or Mitt Romney—and let me be clear, all three of them are good, honorable, principled men—but it isn't working. The same voters who stayed home in '08 and '12 will stay overwhelmingly in '16, and Hillary Clinton is the next president. And that will do irreparable damage to the country."

As if the news of a thaw in U.S. relations with Cuba wasn't worrisome enough for Republicans.

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.