MIAMI (AP) _ Bob Dole, promising a fight for Florida on Election Day, started by getting tough on Fidel Castro and accusing President Clinton of coddling the Cuban leader.

In brief but pointed remarks Sunday at the Cuban Independence Day festival in downtown Miami, the Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting said Clinton would ``rather sacrifice U.S. interests than risk offending a Cuban dictator.''

Without offering specific plans, Dole played to his predominantly Cuban-American audience of 2,000 by promising that history books would record that ``under President Bob Dole, Castro's house of cards came tumbling down.''

In Washington, White House spokesman Mike McCurry said Dole needs to clarify how he intends to remove Castro from power, ``whether he was planning armed invasion or continuation of the policies that the president supported.''

``It may be different from the president's policy, or it may be identical to the president's policy,'' McCurry said today. ``We don't know.''

Dole was crossing the state today to tour a privately funded education facility outside Tampa where fifth-graders in the Pinellas County schools learn to operate their own businesses.

The tour, preceding a fund-raising stop in Tampa, was meant to position Dole opposite Clinton as a proponent of private-sector solutions to social problems instead of ``big government'' programs.

Dole's remarks at Sunday's festival capped an otherwise easygoing Florida weekend. He and his wife, Elizabeth, spent most of Sunday relaxing at their Bal Harbour condominium. In a white T-shirt and shorts, Dole spent several hours sunning by the pool, venturing once onto the sandy beach in order to greet a gaggle of Florida Young Republicans.

``Florida is a key state, one where we'll spend a lot of time,'' Dole told them. The state, fourth most populous in the nation, will be hotly contested for its sizable blocs of swing voters and 25 electoral votes _ nearly one-tenth of the 270 needed for election.

George Bush won the state by only a 2 percent margin over Clinton in the 1992 presidential election.

This time, the Democratic National Committee has already targeted Florida with heavy television advertising that trumpets Clinton as the candidate who will protect Medicare and education.