Many Republicans criticized President Barack Obama for not cutting short his trip to Cuba in the aftermath of the Brussels terror attack. But a plurality of those Americans queried in one poll disagreed, although a similar number thought he should have skipped a ball game he attended while on the historic visit.
More than 30 people were killed and hundreds were hurt in twin attacks on a subway station and the main airport on March 22. The Islamic State claimed responsibility. The coordinated strike in the heart of Europe renewed terror concerns in major U.S. cities as government buildings, transportation hubs and landmarks tightened security.
A number of Republicans, including presidential candidates Ted Cruz and John Kasich, thought Obama should’ve returned to the United States from Havana to address the security situation. The president sought to dramatically advance a thaw in relations with Cuba by becoming the first U.S. chief executive in nearly a century to visit the Caribbean nation, which has been a Communist state for more than half that time.
The president’s activities included a baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team. Baseball has been an area of common ground between the two countries over the years, and the game carried more significance than an ordinary sporting or cultural event would on such an itinerary.
While 44 percent of respondents to an Economist/YouGov poll found nothing wrong with Obama continuing his trip as planned, some 39 percent said he should have abbreviated the visit. And 44 percent said it was inappropriate for him to have attended the ball game, while 37 percent said it was OK.
He defended his decision in an interview with ESPN during the game, noting that the whole premise of terrorism is to “disrupt people’s ordinary lives.”
The breakdown on the baseball game in the survey was largely partisan, with 72 percent of Republicans saying it was inappropriate compared to 66 percent of Democrats who said it was appropriate. A plurality of independents said it was inappropriate.
The survey was conducted March 26-29. It was an opt-in, Internet survey of 2,000 respondents and had a the margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent.