UPDATE: The First family has arrived at the ballgame; Obama's doing the wave with Castro.
President Obama does the wave with Castro before baseball game in Cuba -> pic.twitter.com/NQRyQ0TxJc— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) March 22, 2016
The first family arrives in the Cuba stadium -> pic.twitter.com/EO0f1f3Kqr— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) March 22, 2016
Obama’s presidential limo arrives for US/Cuba baseball game pic.twitter.com/8gThl7mxht— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) March 22, 2016
- @Acosta confirms that Obama will continue his Latin America trip, in spite of terror attack in Belgium, going next to Argentina— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) March 22, 2016
Obama, wearing sunglasses at baseball game on communist island, decries terrorist attacks in Belgium pic.twitter.com/dz6xbR4bwI— David Rutz (@DavidRutz) March 22, 2016
UPDATE II: FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia People's Army) is a Colombian-based Marxist rebel group that is involved in the drug trade, among other things. Secretary of State John Kerry was scheduled to meet with FARC and Colombian government officials in Havana during President Obama's visit to Cuba to help facilitate a peaceful resolution to the armed conflict that began in Colombia during the 1960s.
BREAKING: Group of FARC rebels including top leader was at Cuba-U.S. baseball game attended by Obama: FARC negotiator— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) March 22, 2016
As Belgium deals with a devastating terrorist attack, in which the Islamic State recently took responsibility, President Obama's planned attendance at a baseball game in Cuba is apparently still a go,
Sport is the conquest of the revolution," reads the sign looming over the outfield of Havana's Estadio Latinoamericano, the island's main stadium and hallowed ground for Cuban baseball fans.
There are no beer ads or Nike banners in the stadium, no advertising for anything but the Cuban revolution. Tickets cost a mere 15 cents. There aren't any beer sales either. Fans instead drink sugary cafecitos while smoking Cuban cigars.
The bare-bones stadium is the setting of one President Barack Obama's most anticipated events during his historic visit: taking in a baseball game between the Cuban National Team and the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.
"Play ball!" Obama tweeted after Major League Baseball announced he would attend the game.
Play ball! https://t.co/S4DhVYa4Ef— President Obama (@POTUS) March 2, 2016
Of course, the Republican candidates for president were not happy that Obama was attending baseball games “with the Castros” rather than flying back home, or going to Brussels, to deal with the situation (via Daily Mail):
All three GOP presidential candidates condemned the president's moves this morning.
'President Obama is spending his time going to baseball games with the Castros,' said Sen. Ted Cruz, who is running for the Republican nomination for president, according to reporting from ABC News' Rick Klein.
Cruz, who is half-Cuban, had already come out against the Obama family's historic trip to Cuba this week, but the fact that the president's schedule will stay intact after the attacks was more salt on the wound.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, also running for president, soon chimed in making a similar demand.
'The president must return home immediately and get to work with our allies to respond with strength against the enemies of the west,' Kasich wrote.
Not to be outdone, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump soon chimed in.
'President Obama looks and sounds so ridiculous making his speech in Cuba, especially in the shadows of Brussels. He is being treated badly!' The Donald tweeted.
The president did phone the Belgian prime minister to offer his condolences and words of support in light of this horrific attack, and offered remarks about the incident during today’s presser. But, as Cortney pointed out, he didn’t mention radical Islam.
President Obama spoke today by phone with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel to offer his condolences on behalf of the American people following today’s horrific terrorist attacks in Brussels. The President reaffirmed the steadfast support of the United States for Belgium, and offered any assistance necessary in investigating these attacks and bringing those responsible to justice. The President reiterated that the United States stands together with the people of Belgium, as well as NATO and the European Union, and once again pledged the full cooperation and support of the United States in our shared commitment to defeat the scourge of terrorism.
This isn't the first time the president has stepped in it after a terrorist incident. After journalist James Foley was beheaded by ISIS in the summer of 2014, Obama delivered remarks condemning the act of violence while on vacation in Martha's Vineyard. Shortly after leaving the podium, he went golfing, which was terrible optics for this White House - a point the president conceded in the weeks that followed:
It is always a challenge when you're supposed to be on vacation," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "There's no doubt that, after having talked to the families, where it was hard for me to hold back tears listening to the pain that they were going through, after the statement that I made, that you know, I should've anticipated the optics."
"You know, that's part of the job," he added, acknowledging that he's not always adept with the "theater" of the presidency.
"It's not something that always comes naturally to me," he said. "But it matters. And I'm mindful of that."