Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Connie Mack talks 'thugocrats,' touts top congressional support in Hialeah

HIALEAH — Bashing the "thugocrats" in Venezuela and Cuba, U.S. Senate candidate Connie Mack touted the support of Miami-Dade's Cuban-American congressional representatives Monday in a speech that highlighted his foreign-policy chops.

Mack, a Republican, Fort Myers congressman and House Committee on Foreign Affairs member, suggested the Obama administration wasn't backing its allies as Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez expands his influence in Latin America.

"We can no longer have a government that tends to side with our enemies and turns our back on our allies," Mack said.

U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, David Rivera and Mario Diaz-Balart echoed the sentiment when they officially endorsed Mack at Chico's Restaurant in Hialeah. Also in support: former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart.

The support of the four Miami-Dade powerbrokers is crucial in the state's largest Republican county, where nearly two-thirds of the registered Republicans are Hispanic.

Mack, leading in the polls, faces former Sen. George LeMieux and businessman Mike McCalister in the Republican primary. They seek to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, whom Mack often describes as a "lockstep liberal" for his support of Obama's policies.

Mack and his fellow representatives largely eschewed talking about Nelson on Monday and instead concentrated on Chavez and Fidel Castro, whom Mack called "thugocrats."

In a sign of Chavez strength and the waning of Castro's regime, the Republicans spent more time talking about Venezuela's leader than Castro. They also touched on the left-leaning administrations of Bolivia's Juan Evo Morales Ayma, Nicaragua's José Daniel Ortega Saavedra and former Honduran President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart credited Mack with raising concerns in Congress about Zelaya. Zelaya was ousted in a 2009 military coup because he defied the Honduran high court. He had planned to host a referendum that was ultimately aimed at giving him more time in office.

Obama, at the time, opposed the ouster of Zelaya by the military but suggested the U.S. opposed the Honduran government's policies.

Mack vocally opposed Zelaya's return, visited Honduras and sponsored a congressional resolution that effectively supported the coup.

"Because of him, Congress coalesced," Diaz-Balart said. "And because of him, and because of the heroic people of Honduras, that democracy was able to survive."

Diaz-Balart also suggested Obama joined with Castro and Chavez in helping "put an anti-American dictator in Honduras." But Zelaya was actually elected two years before Obama won the U.S. presidency.

Mack spent relatively little time talking specifics about his foreign policy positions and instead lauded the score of supporters — members of Miami's Cuban exile community.

"I would challenge anyone to come to Hialeah and talk about freedom," Mack said. "When people talk with you about what it means to be free, you're not talking from a textbook. You're talking about a life experience."

Connie Mack talks 'thugocrats,' touts top congressional support in Hialeah 02/13/12 [Last modified: Monday, February 13, 2012 8:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Observations from a liberal, gay, Latino, feminist Florida House freshman


    State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando,  rocked the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus dinner at Tallahassee's Hotel Duval Satursday night with his unabashedly liberal and passionate take on the myriad issues he said are key to LGBTQ Floridians. Among them: Access to guns, Reproductive rights, home …

    Carlos G. Smith
  2. Delta Sigma Theta honors outgoing national president

    Human Interest

    During her four years as national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Paulette Walker said she always focused on the comma between "Sorority" and "Inc."

    Paulette Walker, the former director of undergraduate programs and internship in the College of Education at the University of South Florida, will be honored on Saturday for her leadership in the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
  3. 10 sailors missing, 5 hurt in collision of USS John S. McCain

    SEOUL —Ten U.S. Navy sailors are missing and five have been injured after the USS John S. McCain destroyer collided with an oil tanker near Singapore early Monday morning.

    In this Jan. 22, 2017, photo provided by U.S. Navy, the USS John S. McCain patrols in the South China Sea while supporting security efforts in the region. The guided-missile destroyer collided with a merchant ship on Monday, Aug. 21, in waters east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca. Ten sailors were missing, and five were injured, the Navy said. [James Vazquez/U.S. Navy via AP]
  4. Pasco County Fire Rescue fighting a two-alarm fire started by an explosion


    Two houses are on fire and one victim has been critically burned and taken to a trauma center following an explosion at a home at 8652 Velvet Dr, in Port Richey.

  5. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.