Jeb Bush says Obama's shift on Cuba undermines US credibility

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WOODBURY, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 24: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during a Long Island Association luncheon with LIA President and CEO Kevin S. Law at the Crest Hollow Country Club on February 24, 2014 in Woodbury, New York. Bush is widely seen as a possible presidential contender in 2016. (Photo by Andy Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Potential Republican 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush on Wednesday criticized the White House's move to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba, calling the shift a "dramatic overreach" of President Barack Obama's executive authority.

"Cuba is a dictatorship with a disastrous human rights record, and now President Obama has rewarded those dictators," Bush, the former governor of Florida, a key state with a large Cuban-American population, said in a statement.

"The benefactors of President Obama's ill-advised move will be the heinous Castro brothers, who have oppressed the Cuban people for decades," Bush said on Wednesday.

Bush, whose father George H.W. and brother George W. were both U.S. presidents, also welcomed the return of Alan Gross to the United States, but condemned the simultaneous release of three Cuban spies.

Bush on Tuesday announced his intention to actively explore a presidential bid, becoming the first major Republican to formally move toward a possible candidacy.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, another Republican presidential hopeful and a Cuban-American, earlier announced his own strong opposition to the Obama administration's policy shift.

(Reporting by Gabriel Debenedetti, editing by G Crosse)

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