Trump’s willingness to meet with Maduro becomes fodder for Biden campaign ads in Miami

President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro speaks during a press conference at Miraflores Government Palace on March 12, 2020 in Caracas, Venezuela. (Photo by Carolina Cabral/Getty Images/TNS)
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By David Smiley Miami Herald (TNS)

MIAMI — News of President Donald Trump’s willingness to meet some day with embattled Venezuelan ruler Nicolás Maduro is coming to the AM radio dial in Miami. And to Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

Following Trump’s acknowledgment during an Axios interview published Sunday that he would consider a face-to-face with Maduro, the campaign of presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is planning to publish ads online and on Spanish-language radio in the Miami market highlighting the president’s openness to meeting with a foreign leader whose reign has seen millions flee poverty-racked Venezuela.

Trump said on Twitter Monday that he would only meet with Maduro to facilitate a peaceful exit from the country. But with hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan exiles living in Florida, Biden’s campaign hopes to hurt Trump by promoting the Axios interview — during which Trump made lukewarm statements about Juan Guaidó, the Venezuelan national assembly leader whom the U.S. recognizes as Venezuela’s rightfully elected president.

“We’ve known for some time that Donald Trump is no friend to the Venezuelan people fighting for human rights and democracy in their country, and now there can be no doubt,” the Biden campaign said in a statement.

“This is deeply personal to all those in South Florida who have fled to the United States from the brutal Maduro regime, and this November, Floridians are going to hold Trump accountable for his behavior toward the Venezuelan people and elect Joe Biden.”

Republicans continue to stand by Trump, arguing that the president has been much tougher on Venezuela and its most important ally — Cuba — than the Obama-Biden administration.

But the coming ad campaign is the latest evidence that Democrats believe Trump damaged his reelection hopes in must-win Florida with his comments. The Florida Democratic Party and Biden campaign have hosted and planned multiple calls with members of Congress and Venezuelan activists around Trump’s interest in a possible meeting with Maduro, and Democratic candidates in South Florida have begun to attack Republican opponents who have refrained from criticizing the president.

The Biden campaign said the ads will begin airing on the radio as early as midweek and will be placed on stations with high ratings among Venezuelan Americans and Cuban Americans. A Biden spokesman said the ads are part of a $15 million ad blitz announced last week that includes a five-week, seven-figure Hispanic voter media campaign in Florida and Arizona.

Following the initial publication of this article, Ali Pardo, deputy communications director for the Trump campaign, issued a statement to the Miami Herald criticizing Biden’s past interactions with Maduro and touting the U.S. Justice Department’s indictment of the Venezuelan leader and other current and former Venezuelan officials on narco-trafficking charges.

“If Joe Biden wants to make his Florida campaign about Venezuela, we would gladly welcome that debate,” she said.

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