SWEETWATER, Fla. - Mitt Romney showed up yesterday at a youth center named for the powerful Cuban-American activist Jorge Mas Canosa. But he was not wearing his usual Boston businessman's uniform of French-cuff shirt and silk tie. 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 cheering Cuban-American supporters.
The loose-fitting shirt, he explained, had been given to him yesterday morning at the Bay of Pigs Museum and Library 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 by speaking Spanish, Romney put the focus on Fidel Castro.
He told the crowd about meeting a man named Ricardo who was later killed by militants in El Salvador. Romney had met Ricardo early in Romney's career as a venture capitalist. "You see, Ricardo's family had lost their oldest son to rebels in El Salvador," Romney said. "And these rebels were financed by the wealth of Fidel Castro . . . 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!"