03/19/2016 06:30 am ET

Why One Republican Is Going To Cuba With President Obama This Weekend

For one thing, it's an opportunity to sell cheese.
Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) speaks at a news conference in Washington, D.C.
Tom Williams/Getty Images
Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) speaks at a news conference in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON -- After decades of GOP opposition to restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba, some Republican members of Congress will be joining President Barack Obama on a trip to Havana this weekend.

"I don't think the president's necessarily wrong in saying maybe we can have a better effect on Cuban government and society by having a more open exchange of ideas," Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) told "So That Happened," the HuffPost Politics podcast. 

Ribble will be one of as many as 20 members of Congress accompanying the president on the two-day jaunt. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) will also be going, his office has said

Ribble said he supports ending the economic embargo the U.S. has imposed on Cuba since 1960, noting that over the course of decades the policy hasn't made the island nation any less Communist. Ending the embargo would be good for American businesses, he said. 

"When they see the freedom of mobility Americans have and their willingness to come and invest money, I think it's a natural thing that they're going to want not only our products and services -- and certainly Wisconsin cheese and milk -- they're going to want American-style freedom as well," Ribble said. 

Obama has loosened travel restrictions to Cuba and last year restored diplomatic relations with the country.

“So That Happened” is hosted by Jason Linkins, Zach Carter and Arthur Delaney. Joining them this week is author and journalist Thomas Frank, U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble and Huffington Post reporters Cristian Farias and Samantha Lachman.

This podcast was produced, edited and engineered by Christine Conetta.

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