tv The Place for Politics 2016 MSNBC March 21, 2016 9:00am-10:01am PDT
"the star spangled banner" is playing. the first sitting president to come in almost 90 years. with an official welcome by cuban president, raul castro, the two leaders trying to resolve differences over economic opportunities and human rights. >> the time is right. obviously, our intention has always been to get a ball rolling knowing that change wasn't going to happen overnight. >> pen pals. the cuban woman who got a letter back from the president tells me her island nation is ready for change. >> i needed to hear an american president. and meet publicly. that's been a punishment and a dark page in american history for cuba and cubans all over the
world. power brokers. donald trump huddles with republican insiders. but will he be able to win over the so-called establishment? and tough talk. hillary clinton slams donald trump before powerful israel lobbying group ahead of his appearance there later today. >> yes, we need steady hands. pro israel on tuesday and who knows what on wednesday because everything's negotiable. >> good day. i'm chris jansing here in cuba on a pivotal day for u.s./cuba relations. right now, he's meeting on cuban soil. this is the first time in 88
years. we're expecting both president obama and president castro to make statements in the next hour. new york democratic congressmen are part of the delegation arrived with the president. they join me here in havana. it's good to see both of you, congressmen. try to put this into some context. you've been coming here since 1999. on the ground, i've spoken to so many cubans. what do you make of this here in havana? >> it's very emotional. they want to be close to the united states. they're just 90 miles off of our shore. so this is a dream that is becoming a reality to see that we're finally talking to one another and having people-to-people contact, to make life better for the people here as well as the american cubans who can come and visit their families here. this is a fantastic door-opening and historic occasion. >> the significance of the meeting that's going on.
we should say that raul castro and the president have spoke before. i was there in panama with the president when they made the handshake that was so historic as well. but take us inside. what is the conversation like and what do you think the president should be saying? >> the president will definitely make an argument for humanitarian rights and political openness but that's going to be a bottom-up process. there's tribulation here in cuba. they're a creative people dealing with a calcified political system. there's a debate in our country about engagement, which the president favors our continuation of the embargo. and bottom line, which one has the better prospect to help everyday cuban people and we believe it's engagement. that's clearly what the president believes as well. and by the way, ending the embargo, which is only something congress can do, that's no favor
to raul castro. that will unleash a level of energy to create its own dynamic. the congressional delegation is really excited to meet cuban people who look to america as a land of hope and promise. >> we need to talk about the change we've seen on the ground but let me ask about the change in congress. the bipartisan congressional delegation as we see on the democratic side of the aisle. we are looking to see, can there be change in the middle of this heated political climate we have here? give me your realistic assessment of anything congress could vote on. will there be anything that happens before a new president is in place? >> i don't know about before a new president. but i think if, in fact, we were able to put a bill on the floor of the house today, tomorrow, it would pass. that just shows you how congress has moved and shifted. it would pass. the political and the politics that's going on in washington is
putting everything to a halt, but i think that you have started to hear more of the american people talking about they want this change to happen. the american people are saying that they want to come down to cuba. the american people are saying that their relationship should change. and that's what's going to make congress move. and the more that you see us doing business here and you see the president utilizing executive order to change things here, the more the american people get involved and then the more you see congress move. >> a lot of americans might be surprised that he's the economic impact in the country they'd never think of if this relationship becomes more open. tell us a little bit from your perspective about vermont and the interest there. >> two things. companies really want to do business here and they are down here in force. they are down here. >> hotels, airlines, restaurants. >> yes. they want to come down and participate. but the other question that gregory was talking about, this
embargo, it does not hurt the castro brothers. they're doing fine. they get what they want. they get it what they want it. it's everyday cubans who can't get plywood. it's hard to get silver. that's the effect of the embargo. he has enormous energy. he and his wife started this. they have cooking classes to become self-sufficient. i think there's a growing awareness, whatever the original justification, the effect is to hurt everyday cubans, not at all affect the castro brothers. >> nothing has changed here in 55 years. >> you've been coming since 1999. what changes have you seen. >> you see some minor changes with reference to some individuals becoming entrepreneurs, et, but changes with the willingness of wanting to talk to americans and having the embargo reopened. and the embargo ended. so that is changing.
and the fact that they want dialogue. i came down here one year and came to visit some young professionals and we just went to their apartments. they were playing american music. they wanted to have more access to the internet. they wanted to make sure they had the telephones. i see that changing. so as i go by and look at cafes, you see young people with telephones. they had their laptops. they want greater access. they want to be part of the general society of the world, the economy. >> don't you understand there's an overwhelming concern with cuban americans that they live the horror, the families often escape. they lost property. we still see it now. we saw what happened yesterday when dozens of people who were protesting peacefully, members of a group that do this every week, they thought, maybe they would get a pass this week to say that, president obama, okay, we understand. but you can see these pictures of what happened here and you understand the hesitation of people that they believe that we
are giving economic opportunity, but not getting much in return in terms of human rights, freedom of speech. the things that have been missing here. >> they're right to criticize. it's an oppressive political system. the question is whether embargo or engagement has the better prospect of helping the cuban people. we can learn some things from the cuban people. they've been in difficult circumstances without the political rights we enjoy, but they've got, everybody reads. about 100% literacy rate. access to health care. their longevity, as long as it is in the united states or longer. we're here in the hopes we can bring something, but there's some things we might be able to learn from the cuban people. >> the whole point of the concern, the understandable concern and the points that we've heard from frankly, people like ted cruz and marco rubio on
the other side of the isaisle. people here who have lost so much, who have been jailed. the president has a big opportunity tomorrow. he's going to have an uncensored speech, unprecedented, heard on cuban television as well as american television. would you encourage him to be forceful? to go up and cross the line people think is diplomatically safe and speak about what's going on and what needs to change? >> i've seen this president be forceful, and i think he will be. he's not going to shy away from those difficult issues and the problems that are in cuba and he's going to say it on a television screen that will be on radio heard here in cuba. which would not happen if you did not have this kind of dialogue. this happened in kenya. did not shy away from the difficult issues there in front of all of the individuals in the citizens of kenya. i think he's going to do the same thing here. i think behind the closed door
meetin meetings, he's saying the same thing and castro probably saying things to him. when you have an open and honest dialogue, and when you have diplomacy, you don't hide and shy away from them. you talk about them. >> one thing we're going to be watching for, will raul castro take questions after they come out of this meeting? and they make their statements. congressman welch, thank you for being with us. >> thank you. coming up, back to politics in the states. mr. trump goes to washington. the gop front-runner meets with key republicans in dc today. but why were none of the congressional leaders invited? that's next on "andrea mitchell reports" live from cuba. your credit is in pretty good shape.
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and we are back after a chaotic scene here in havana yesterday when dozens of protesters including members of the ladies in white group opposing the imprisonment of dissident relatives arrested before president obama's arrival. the president is expected to meet tomorrow with the economic issues of cuba and there you see what was truly a chaotic scene after what had been a peaceful protest following sunday mass on palm sunday here in havana. joining me, the executive director, silvia met with president obama about americas's next steps. tell us about the meeting. >> thank you for having us. we found a president that was very well briefed, very well focused and very much looking forward to coming to cuba. we felt extremely welcome.
>> tell us your organization and interest in this. >> i am cuban-american. since 1996, i have been bringing people and groups to cuba. i always felt that building these bridges could lead to trust and understanding between not just the people of both countries, but very importantly, from cuban americans. >> let me ask you a personal question and then we'll move on to the business of it. but when you see the images of air force one comes down, you have a chance to meet with the president of the united states. you see that right now, he is in a meeting with raul castro. what goes through your heart and your head? >> the first thing that goes through my heart and head, i am so proud to be an american. and so proud to be cuban. i never thought i would be alive to see this day. i've been fighting for this for 20 plus years against very difficult moments in miami.
to do what is right for people of both countries. >> and you are in a city that is in the heart of this debate over whether or not the president should even be here, and surely, you understand those concerns. what do you say to your friends and family and other people who disagree with you and who think that this is capitulation, essentially, saying it's okay? >> you know what, it is okay. it is okay after 57 years of a failed policy to be here. and it is okay to think differently. we, in the cuban american community, have never been a monolithic group. i know what it is to be an american, to think the way you think, and respect their decision, ask them to respect mine and hope the president's visit, which is just starting, after they listen to his words tomorrow. i'm looking forward to hearing. >> what do you want him to say?
this is a unique opportunity for the cuban people to hear from him. >> i want him to say that this cold war has ended. we closed the chapter. we start a new chapter in relations between the new countries. i do hope he says it's going to be a relationship of mutual respect and understanding. and that there's much that the united states can do to benefit the economy of this country and there's much that cuba can do to also benefit understanding on the part of the united states, the people of the united states. i mean, it's a mutually beneficial relationship. >> there's a continuing political challenge, but a logistical challenge. i was just talking to the two congressmen and saying every one of us thought, oh, i'm so jealous. i wish i could. there's a fascination, they've been wanting to come here and now, they want to rush over here because they don't want to miss the cuba that it is now.
what about those logistical challenges and are you concerned about whether or not the timing can keep up with the demand? >> i bring groups. my organization brings anywhere between 18 and 15 gro50 groups . there's questions of challenges. i also wonder how they even get it done in cuba. they do miracles to welcome the americans, but we are reaching a point here where the infrastructure is very compromised. and if more americans are going to come and they are going to come, especially with the new regulations announced on wednesday, cuba has to move to meet those challenges. maybe they're trying to do it a little slower because it might be too much for them to handle and they would rather do it a little slower. but the challenges are huge, huge. but i have confidence that they
will meet them. >> thank you for talking with us today. >> it's great for you to have me. >> coffee talk. wrote to president obama inviting her to her havana home. will her wish come true? and later, donald trump with prominent republicans in a secretive meeting in washington, dc. that's coming up next on "andrea mitchell reports" live from cuba. [alarm beeps] ♪ ♪ the intelligent, all-new audi a4 is here. ♪ ♪ ain't got time to make no apologies...♪ hey kevin.
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a major meeting that will bring donald trump and just brought him, in fact, in his limousine to capitol hill to talk about prominent republicans today. i understand newt gingrich arrived hoping to improve relations with party insiders, but senate and house leaders are notably not invited. nbc's luke russert is out where the meeting is happening. big questions about who would actually show up. what are you seeing so far? >> reporter: hey there, chris. this is a fascinating meeting because of the degree of secrecy.
he just walked in. didn't say much. scott, a republican from tennessee, he came in. asked if he was going to endorse donald trump. he said he has the clearest way to the nomination. as to what this meeting was about, we're kind of in the dark about that. that's what was said about donald trump. just now, newt gingrich did not say anything. probably the last republican that was elected that shook up the way the party was operating. very versed on how to be an insurgent and get elected. it's interesting, chris, so much we do not necessarily know. the purpose of this meeting. why are they being so secretive
about it? is donald trump trying to manifest better relations with congress because so many republicans are worried if he's the nominee. we see reports that the house could be in jeopardy. the political report over the weekend or is he laying out a strategy with these or the small number of reporters for how he sees the race going forward? hopefully the numbers that come out of the meeting, we'll be willing to answer for the american people after it. >> yeah. how he sees the race going forward, which of course, includes how does he deal with this continuing anti-trump organizing effort including many members of the establishment who have spoken very clear ly. >> reporter: we had seen some reports over the weekend and even heard within our own
sourcing there could be some anti-trump super packs here tracking to see which numbers would come in trying to flag them as being embarrassing to the conservative movement. somebody that should be publicly announced. i can tell you from an internal memo from publication, there is a full-on movement to try out anybody who comes to this meeting, whether a lobbyist, an operative, or a member. the members at least so far have been open about it in coming and talking to the cameras a little bit. but there is this movement within the conservative base that says never trump. he's not a conservative and anyone who helps him out needs to be outed and needs to be publicly shamed. and i suspect if it does leak out that these lobbyists or lawyer that is work in the republican party are thinking about joining up with donald trump could be bad for their careers. at least that's some of the messages back from the republican party, chris.
>> luke russert, we'll check back in with you. but it is fascinating to see what's going on there on capitol hill. thank you, luke. coming up, more live from cuba. as president obama makes this historic visit to this island nation. this is msnbc. vo: know you have a dedicated advisor and team who understand where you come from. we didn't really have anything, you know. but, we made do. vo: know you can craft an investment plan as strong as your values. al, how you doing. hey, mr. hamilton. vo: know that together you can establish a meaningful legacy. with the guidance and support of your dedicated pnc wealth management team. who don't have access thto basic banking,on people but that is changing. at temenos, with the microsoft cloud, we can enable a banker to travel to the most remote locations with nothing but a phone and a tablet. everywhere where there's a phone, you have a bank.
♪ ♪ geico motorcycle, great rates for great rides. we're back live in havana. 39 members of congress have joined president obama for this historic trip to cuba. in arizona and democratic senator of minnesota. andrea mitchell spoke with them a short time ago and asked about the criticism that president obama had gone too far too soon in his request for stronger diplomatic ties. >> this is raul castro and it is still part of the same regime. dissidence to those arrested, detained, those released after
eight hours. they're complaining too much is being done too soon, amy kobechar, because there's no changes. >> changes have to be made. that's why the president is here. there's been 50 some years of a failed policy and devote to talking about human rights. he's meeting with the leaders of the dizssident groups tomorrow and i think that the only way you're going to see that change that they want is by bringing more democracy here, exposing them to americans, exposing them to american goods because all of the past policy hasn't changed things and this is our hope. >> the republican party and republican candidates are dead set against this and they're pledging to reverse this normalization. some are. >> one of the republicans running to replace marco rubio in the senate, he's now running for reelection is running a platform of lifting the travel ban from florida. so there has been a seat change
there in politics but i should mention, with the human rights situation here, yes, the government is going to continue to do what the government does but nearly a quarter of the population, a quarter of the workforce is now in the private sector in cuba. if you can believe that after five years and those who don't have to rely for their lively food, for their jobs and rationed subsidies are for more independent and have a far better human rights condition than those dependent. our policies are expanding the private sector. that's a good thing. >> that was andrea mitchell. president obama's trip to havana will have a profound impact whose hopes and dreams are tied to the idea of real change for their country.
here's her story. in the kitchen of her home, ileana honors cuban tradition with cafe cubano. >> you have a wonderful coffee. >> in case her dream guest comes. >> how many letters have you written to him? >> five. >> starting in 2008 when barack obama was first running for president, she sat down to write. >> i just want to ask you to please help. >> she was able to report back to her family with the results. >> i heard you opened up an expensive bottle of champagne. is it true? >> it is. >> and she wrote more letters. >> in her last one, a thank you for opening the diplomatic door to cuba andrea mitche an invita
open her own. >> give the 76-year-old lady the gift of meeting you personally. >> she never expected president obama to read it, but he did. >> oh my god. i can't believe it. >> a response came, hand delivered. and as an official white house photo shows, it was signed by the president himself. he wrote, i hope this note which will reach you by way of direct mail flight between united states of cuba in over 50 years serves as a reminder in the bright new chapter between our two nations. no mention of ileana's other request. >> please come here and have some coffee. >> if he does come, he'll find cafe cubano is like she is, delightful and sweet and good. >> oh wow. that's good coffee. >> and by the way, she says he should bring his family. >> my heart is open. my heart is always very optimistic. perhaps my brain is not, but the
heart is. >> and joining me here in havana, allen gomez. usa today immigration reporter. glad to have you back with us. ileana exemplifies so many people here. never thought this would happen or live to see the day. her heart aches for what this country has been through but desperate for the economic opportunity. tell me what you're feeling on the ground that the president is now here. >> it's been fascinating to hear from the cubans. we've been waiting for this day for so long to get here. and some are zoidisappointed he not doing the parade but just knowing he's meeting with president castro and doing all of that.
there are journalists as much as demon stray stostrators demonstrators. this is we see a generational split here. these younger americans, they do support. the ones we talk to. and many do support the president's trip to havana. chris, back to you. >> gabe gutierrez, thank you. a lot of what the president wants to bring what the administration thinks will move the needle, essentially, in congress as well as on the ground as well as economic change. you had a chance to speak to the ceo of marriott. >> he's part of the presidential delegation. part of the president's export council and -- >> got a real interest here. >> exactly. what he's been doing. they announced today that they are reestablishing a bid to take over starwood resorts and signed with the cubans to run three hotels here.
what they are doing now is manage these hotels, take over them, refurbish them. but telling me the eventual goal is to build marriotts down here, starwood hotels and start bringing those american brands, american hotels to this place. you know very well down here in havana, it's impossible to find a hotel and not just because the president is here, but the infrastructure is not ready for this deluge of americans coming here but that's one part of the puzzle but also what the president does this afternoon when he meets the entrepreneurs. private entrepreneurs, not working in the state system. their own paying taxes, can have employees. remarkable change for a country like this and one so many are looking for and doing for so long. come, no neutrality.
hillary clinton slams donald trump for changing his view on israel. you're watching "andrea mitchell reports" only on msnbc. i think the first step in being able to create a helpful solution is just to be able to recognize problems in the world around you. don't you dare change the rules. don't you dare play with your food. don't you dare get any big ideas. ignore what people say you can't do. don't you dare take that apart. don't you dare stay up all night on the computer. don't you dare raise your voice.
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naturally helps support both your digestive and immune health by combining... ... two types of good bacteria. trubiotics. be true to your health. we can't be neutral when rockets rain down on residential neighborhoods, when civilians are stabbed in the street, when suicide bombers target the innocent. some things aren't negotiable and anyone who doesn't understand that has no business being our president. >> hillary clinton criticizing the neutral stance on israel during her speech to apac in washington, dc. trump will get a chance to respond later on in the news conference. one of four presidential candidates addressing the israel
lobbying group today. meanwhi meanwhile, bernie sanders is campaigning in utah where he's also delivering his foreign policy speech. kristen welker with the clinton campaign. let me start with you. listening to hillary clinton speak today, it sounded like she was moving on to the general. that this was the line of attack that clearly they are deciding to do. casting trump as unqualified to handle any heated international conflict. tell us about it. >> reporter: you're absolutely right, chris. we heard some of the sharpest jabs against donald trump and it's a preview of what to expect in the general election if these two face off. i've been talking to clinton campaign officials who say they've been weighing a number of options to take on donald trump, ignoring him. they say that's not going to work. that's what republicans did and that backfired. getting down on his level, backfired again. saw that with marco rubio trying to go after him on personal
attacks. the tactic she's going to take if she does face off against donald trump in a general i am told to stick to these policy differences. we saw it with israel and a host of other issues. and that's what we expect to see and she still has to win her primary race, chris. she has almost got an insurmountable delegate lead and the next battleground is right here in arizona. secretary clinton campaigning here later on today and so will senator bernie sanders. the clinton campaign thinks a win here is critical because they expect senator sanders to win a number of caucus states that are coming up. senator sanders wants to win arizona so he can regain the momentum he's lost in recent weeks. it's worth noting senator sanders outraced secretary clinton last month. got $40 million to her $30
million and she still has more money in the bank. senator sanders showing no signs of getting out of this race. just today, chris, a number of democrats calling on him to scale back his attacks against secretary clinton. not calling on him to get out of the race but secretary clinton is the nominee. >> they're careful in the way they handle that. >> this aipac speech is so important now for donald trump, not just from hillary clinton and democrats but criticized for his lack of policies, his lack of depth, his lack of advisors. this is a chance to get out there and show what he wants to say. he has signaled that there is where he's going to lay out his policy. what are we expecting? >> it is a big day for donald trump. we are hearing that he's going to be reading from notes which is not so typical of him. he wants to get specific and
prove, as you said, he does have depth on foreign policy. he does understand the intricate problems or obstacles that the israeli state faces. in the past, he's been criticized saying he's going to remain neutral between the israel/palestine conflict because ityou need to in order t to tip your hand to one side or the other but been criticized nonetheless for not taking a strong stance on the side of israel. he's also been criticized for not saying that the capital of israel is jejerusalem. that was also a pretty controversial meeting he had out there. a pretty controversial speech peppered with a number of jewish stereotypes as well as some gaffes of sorts and so he needs to come out here and basically prove he understands the conflict, understands the situation and foreign policy.
it is a big opportunity for him, but when we've seen him say he's going to do this in the past, he hasn't necessarily delivered but we will see what happens tonight. so far, the campaign has not released any of their prepared remarks. >> it will be interesting to see if he very specifically responds to what hillary clinton had to say, but let me ask you, katy. if you are hearing anything at all about this meeting that's going on right now, obviously, the trump campaign trying to do some kind of outreach. we saw newt gingrich there and some members of congress including duncan hunter, no members of congressional leadership. are they getting anything about what this is about? >> the trump campaign is being radio silent about this. when they want to be radiosecree been successful because they have a small group of campaign staffers around the candidate himself. donald trump himself though has been trying to push this message of party unity saying that thea
him. we're told by party leadership in the house and mitch mcconnell and paul ryan not only did they not know about this meeting but were not invited to this meeting. it's not meant to smooth things over, even though it is being build in some ways as donald trump, coming to washington, and making his presence known and proving he can work with the gop establishment. that is so far, not happening with this meeting today, chris? >> katy tur and kristen welker. thank you. play ball. the importance of baseball diplomacy. that's next right here on "andrea mitchell reports" live from havana. . i have an orc-o-gram for an "owen." that's me. ♪ you should hire stacy drew. ♪ ♪ she wants to change the world with you. ♪ ♪ she can program jet engines to talk and such. ♪ ♪ her biggest weakness is she cares too much. ♪ thank you. my friend really wants a job at ge.
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i love president obama coming down here. this is a huge thing for the cuban people. huge things for americans. i mea it means a lot. >> the tampa bay bay rays arr e arrived in havana on tuesday. obama and castro will be at the game together as they hope to play ball on a host of issues. will it be baseball diplomacy at its finest? here is a cuban baseball expert, offering several books on the topic and the first to write regular columns on to official cuban league web sites. it's good to see you. >> it's been 20 years.
it's an eerie feeling for fans to see major league players on their soil in cuba. >> you know, it's been interesting to me. i talked to a few young men who are baseball fanatics and it's not hard to be here. this is a country that's baseball obsessed. and they were essentially talking baseball with me about sort of the match-ups and the tampa bay rays versus their players and their team may not be as strong as some americans might expect. so it's been very interesting. talk a little bit about sort of the culture here and what baseball means to it and why this game is important. >> baseball has been strocentrad it's been kind of the face of cuba to the outside world. one of the places and cuba won some major diplomatic and propaganda victories with a strong national team, but as those fans were pointing out to
you, now that national team has been considerably weakened by the defection of so many star players. they've lost the cuban league with over 100 players in the last year to defections. >> there are new regulations, right, for cuban players helping to play in major league baseball. that trend is going to continue. >> that's a little bit misleading in terms of the regulations. the problem is the cuban baseball federation wants to keep the baseball system in tact. they have one of the strongest baseball systems in the world along with japan and the u.s. they don't want to be turned into the dominican republic and signs all of 14, 15, 16-year-old talent and brings it in out of the country and they don't have any national baseball left. the new regulations so far, the obama administration making it ease your for major league baseball to directly sign cuban
players who get to the u.s. but that only affects the players who have defected. what has to be worked out is a system if players are going to go smoothly to major league baseball where they maybe play some kind of a certain period of time in cuba under contract like the japanese players do and then they're released as free agents after they serve that time. but something has to be done from the cuban standpoint to stop the defections and the other issue that people don't talk about is a lot of these players that have come out of kucou cuba in recent years is involved but this is also an embarrassment that major league baseball wants to get out from under. >> let me ask you really quickly about president obama bringing jackie robinson's widow aboard air force one and tweeted about it and showed this picture of them on board air force one. what do you see as the significance of this and their coming here? >> well, one of the things that's significant from a
historical standpoint is that cuban players were not much of a presence in major league baseball before the revolution until after 1947. a great number of the cuban stars were black players and black players could not play in the major leagues when jackie robinson integrated baseball in the major leagues, that opened the door of a cuban players and that jackie robinson in 1947 when he did integrate major league baseball, he played games in the stadium where they will be played tomorrow. and so jackie robinson's role in integrating baseball was connected with havana at the very beginning. >> peter biarkman, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. a lot of excitement for the game tomorrow but in the meantime, "andrea mitchell reports." tomorrow, andrea back here live from havana cuba.
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and a good monday afternoon to you. i'm craig melvin live at harold's cave creek corral. for more than 80 years, folks come here for the country music and legendary food. more on that in just a bit. but right now, president obama continuing his historic trip to cuba. the first sitting president to set foot on cuban soil in 88 years. we will bring you live coverage of the welcoming ceremony in havana later this hour. but back here in the united states, tomorrow, another big voting date. democrats will caucus in idaho. both parties have contests in utah. but the main prize right here where i'm sitting. iz