SWEETWATER -- Mitt Romney showed up today at a youth center named for the powerful Cuban-American activist Jorge Mas Canosa. But he was not his wearing his usual Boston businessman's uniform of french-cuffed shirts and silk ties. Romney was wearing an open-necked ivory-white guayabera, the traditional Cuban men's shirt.
"It’s an honor to be able to wear this guayabera today," Romney told a cheering crowd of Cuban-American supporters.
The loose-fitting shirt, he explained, had been given to him this morning at the Bay of Pigs Library and Museum in Miami by Luis Arrizurieta, who was one of the roughly 1,400 Cubans to storm the beaches at the Bay of Pigs in April, 1961.
"I have a feeling I won't be wearing it throughout the campaign," the buttoned-down former venture capitalist said, looking somewhat uncomfortable in his new garb. "But I sure am proud of wearing it on such a warm day in Miami."
After his son, Craig, who learned Spanish while working as a missionary in Chile, warmed up the crowd in Spanish, Mitt Romney put the focus squarely on Fidel Castro, the bęte noire of the influential exile community in South Florida.
He told the crowd about meeting a man named Ricardo early in his career as a venture capitalist who had endured an unspeakable tragedy.
"You see, Ricardo’s family had lost their oldest son to rebels in El Salvador, who had kidnapped him and murdered him," Romney said. "And these rebels were financed by the wealth of Fidel Castro. I learned that when Fidel Castro has money, bad things happen. And I vowed that I would never give in to Fidel Castro!"
The crowd broke into cheers and applause.
"Go Mitt go! Go Mitt go!"
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.