Politico: Biden's oil-begging outreach to Maduro creates blowback in Florida -- among Democrats

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Anyone who has studied the nuances of the Hispanic vote in Florida could have predicted this reaction. Apparently this White House doesn’t do nuance. Sucking up to a hardline socialist dictator for more oil doesn’t play well in Florida, Politico reports, not even among Democrats:


Florida Republicans were quick to pile on the Biden administration over talks with Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro to potentially ease sanctions on Venezuelan oil exports.

By Monday, top Democrats in the state also jumped into the fray, expressing in a more measured way their serious concerns over President Joe Biden’s engagement with the South American authoritarian regime.

And that was before the White House made any actual decisions or deals.

“This is a community that’s accustomed to seeing things very black and white — and that makes it difficult for the Biden administration to try to explain the logic behind why Venezuela has all of a sudden become extraordinarily important,” said Eduardo Gamarra, who polls Latino voters in the United States and throughout Latin America, referring to South Florida Hispanics.

“And while it’s predictable the response we’ve seen from politicians, like Sen. [Marco] Rubio and other lawmakers, saying how ‘the Biden administration is betraying us’ and ‘they’re trading with a dictator,’ it plays to the local political concerns here.” he added.

As I wrote in my book Going Red, the Hispanic voter bloc is anything but homogenous. That’s especially true in Florida, where significant political distinctions exist between various communities, especially among the expatriates of the various countries and regions. There are even distinctions between Cuban-Americans whose families fled Fidel Castro and those whose families fled Fulgencio Batista, for instance, let alone the different priorities and ambitions between Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and those from Central and South America as well as the Caribbean.


There is one strong thread amongst most of them, however — their families fled dictatorships of both socialist and military forms, and they detest people like Maduro as a result. The “local concerns” that Gamarra mentions here are not limited to South Florida either but to the broader “Hispanic vote” demographic that has already begun shifting toward the GOP over the last few years. However, if they’re shifting in south Florida — where Democrats dominate — that will be a huge problem for anyone attempting to win a statewide election against a Republican. Or perhaps increasingly, even congressional elections and state legislative elections, not to mention local elections. If Broward and Palm Beach suddenly become red, Democrats are doomed in the Sunshine State.

And they know it, too. While Florida Democrats complained about Republicans pouncing on Biden’s outreach to Maduro, they made sure to get themselves on the right side of the argument … in all possible definitions of right:

Rep. Val Demings, who is running for Rubio’s Senate seat, said she was “deeply skeptical” of the talks with Venezuela. Rep. Charlie Crist, who is running for governor, said he was “deeply concerned the wrong change to our policy would simply enrich Maduro’s brutal dictatorship and set back the fight for democracy.”

“If America was down to it’s last barrel and Venezuela was giving oil away for free, we still shouldn’t go to the Maduro regime for help,” said Democratic state Sen. Annette Taddeo, who is running for governor, in a statement.


The most frustrating part of this for Democrats, at least those with any sense of strategic power, is how unnecessary it was for Biden to go hat in hand to America’s enemies such as Venezuela and Iran for oil. The US had finally positioned itself for energy independence and scalable oil and natural gas production in the years between Barack Obama and Joe Biden; Donald Trump’s emphasis on domestic production turned us into a net exporter. That gave us leverage over global oil prices, and the ability to contain our geopolitical foes. Biden’s open hostility to that scalable production led us back into foreign dependence and a lack of ability to control outcomes in the markets, with the predictable result of emboldened petro-states like Russia and Iran dictating outcomes to the US.

Now Democrats have to decide whether to continue backing Biden’s grasp on a Green New Deal or dump Biden for their own self-preservation. It might be too late for that choice in Florida, and perhaps a lot of other states as well.

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