Note: This blog's templates will be updated this afternoon to a responsive design bringing it in line with MiamiHerald.com.

At that time, we will also change to the Facebook commenting system. You will need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment.

« Florida Chamber of Commerce issues legislative endorsements | Main | ADL asks Jewish house candidate to retract email. He says: "ADL is a despicable organization" »

Mitt Romney calls Obama comment on Venezuela 'disturbing'; Marco Rubio calls it 'naive'

UPDATE: Read full story here.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney reacted on Wednesday to President Barack Obama's comment to a Miami TV anchor last night that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez does not pose a "serious" national security threat to the United States.

In a statement, Romney called Obama's comment "stunning and shocking" and said they sign of "a pattern of weakness" in the president's foreign policy."

"It is disturbing to see him downplaying the threat posed to U.S. interests by a regime that openly wishes us ill," Romney said. "Hugo Chavez has provided safe haven to drug kingpins, encouraged regional terrorist organizations that threaten our allies like Colombia, has strengthened military ties with Iran and helped it evade sanctions, and has allowed a Hezbollah presence within his country's borders."

It's worth noting that, in 2005, then-Gov. Romney was grateful that Chávez's government sent discounted heating oil to Massachusetts in a deal brokered by then-U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, a Massacusetts Democrat. Venezuela later also provided discounted heating oil to the Bronx, in New York City.

Earlier on Wednesday, Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio issued a statement of his own saying Obama "has been living under a rock" when it comes to Chavez.

"Hugo Chavez is not only a threat to the Venezuelan people's freedom and democratic aspirations, he has also supported Iran's regime in its attempts to expand its intelligence network throughout the hemisphere, facilitated money laundering activities that finance state sponsors of terrorism and provided a safe haven for FARC narco-terrorists, among many other actions." Rubio said.

"President Obama continues to display an alarmingly naïve understanding of the challengesand opportunities we face in the Western Hemisphere."

Read their full statements after the jump.

Romney's statement:

"This is a stunning and shocking comment by the President. It is disturbing to see him downplaying the threat posed to U.S. interests by a regime that openly wishes us ill. Hugo Chavez has provided safe haven to drug kingpins, encouraged regional terrorist organizations that threaten our allies like Colombia, has strengthened military ties with Iran and helped it evade sanctions, and has allowed a Hezbollah presence within his country's borders. And he is seeking to lead -– together with the Castros -– a destabilizing, anti-democratic, and anti-American 'Bolivarian Revolution' across Latin America. President Obama's remarks continue a pattern of weakness in his foreign policy, one that has emboldened adversaries and diminished U.S. influence in every region of the world. As president, I will speak clearly and resolutely on the challenges we face so that both our allies and our adversaries will know where we stand."

Rubio's statement:

“It's now disturbingly clear that President Obama has been living under a rock when it comes to recognizing the national security threat posed by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. 

“Hugo Chavez is not only a threat to the Venezuelan people's freedom and democratic aspirations, he has also supported Iran's regime in its attempts to expand its intelligence network throughout the hemisphere, facilitated money laundering activities that finance state sponsors of terrorism and provided a safe haven for FARC narco-terrorists, among many other actions. Just yesterday, the Wall Street Journal detailed how Hugo Chavez circumvents U.S. and EU sanctions to help prop up the Assad regime in Syria. And even Obama's own State Department belatedly but rightly expelled Chavez's consul general in Miami for her ties to a plan to wage cyber-attacks on the U.S. 

"President Obama continues to display an alarmingly naïve understanding of the challenges and opportunities we face in the Western Hemisphere."

Comments