Chavez says Obama is a good guy, Republicans take advantage

The kiss of death. President Chavez portraying Barack Obama as a friend to his regime could cost Latino votes to the U.S. president. Photo source: Benetton ad

Over the weekend, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez made a devastating comparison. He said his opponent, Henrique Capriles, is like Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and that U.S. president Barack Obama is a ‘good guy’, hinting his preference and implying a damaging relationship between a virtual dictator and the incumbent U.S. leader.

In a campaign speech Saturday night in Maracaibo, Chavez equated the agenda of his challenger, Henrique Capriles, with that of Romney, saying both men represent the callously selfish capitalist elite.

While the White House and the Obama campaign have remained silent on the subject, the GOP immediately pummeled the president.

“To Hugo Chavez, Barack Obama ‘deep down is a good guy.’ The Venezuelan strongman clearly would prefer to maintain the status quo in the White House. But Chavez’s policies of systematically dismantling democracy in Venezuela and playing nice with America’s enemies abroad need to be vigorously challenged. Mitt Romney will stand tall against Chavez and against all dictators in our hemisphere and around the world,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).

This follows an earlier shocking comment by President Obama, who said on a Spanish-language TV interview that President Chávez represents ‘no threat’ to national security.

“Given the way Barack Obama has downplayed the threat posed to the United States by Hugo Chavez, it’s not a surprise that the Venezuelan dictator harbors strong hopes that President Obama wins re-election, going so far as to say that President Obama ‘deep down is a good guy.’ That a close friend and ally of Fidel Castro would voice his strong preference for President Obama is deeply troubling. We urgently need a change of course, and a new President in the White House,” said Rep. Mario Diaz Balart (R-FL).

Latino voters in the U.S. are paying attention more closely than ever to the relationships between this administration and Latin American countries. Implications of some sort of friendship between Obama and Chavez could result in wariness, even repulsion in the case of Venezuelans, and lost votes in a very tight election.