MIAMI, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan told an audience in Miami's Little Havana Saturday a Romney-Ryan administration "will be tough on Castro."
Ryan said current and former Cuban-American members of Congress, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and former members Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, have given him "a great education -- "lots of us in Congress -- about how we need to clamp down on the Castro regime."
"We will be tough on Castro, tough on [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez," Ryan said.
The Miami Herald noted Ryan did not tell the crowd he voted three times in Congress against the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.
Speaking Saturday to an audience largely made up of Cuban-Americans, Ryan called the Obama administration's policy on Cuba "this policy of appeasement."
The administration has relaxed restrictions on family travel and private remittances of money to Cuba.
Ryan derided President Barack Obama for his comment during a town hall this week that Washington cannot be changed from the inside but can only be changed from the outside.
"Why do we send presidents to the White House in the first place?" he said, drawing a laugh from the crowd. "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."
During an appearance in Miami Saturday, Ryan spoke of the growing federal debt, telling his audience the share of debt per person has grown $16,000 since Obama was inaugurated in 2009.
At a stop in Orlando, Wisconsin congressman blamed Obama for "a dismantling of the space program over the last four years."
"He has put the space program on a path where we are conceding our global position as the unequivocal leader in space," Ryan said. "Today, if we want to send an astronaut to the space station, we have to pay the Russians to take them there. China may someday be looking down on us from the moon. That is unacceptable. Mitt Romney and I believe that America must lead in space. Mitt Romney and I believe we need a mission for NASA, a mission for the space program, and we also believe that this is an integral part of our national security."