Cardin Hits Sanders on Maduro Stance: Venezuelan Dictator 'Has Lost Legitimacy'

February 22, 2019

Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.) on Friday voiced his opposition to Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I., Vt.) position on Venezuelan leadership, saying the country's beleaguered leader Nicolas Maduro has "lost legitimacy."

Cardin appeared on CNN's "Right Now," where host Brianna Keilar asked him about Sanders's recent interview with Univision's Jorge Ramos. During the interview, Sanders refrained from calling for Maduro to step down or saying whether he thought Maduro is a dictator.

"I disagree with Senator Sanders in regards to the legitimacy of President Maduro. I don't believe he is a legitimate leader," Cardin said. "I do agree with Senator Sanders that we need free and fair elections in Venezuela in order to determine its future leader. That has to be done."

"Clearly Maduro has lost legitimacy. He was not freely elected, and his legitimacy as leader is no longer there. So I support the president in recognizing the new acting president," Cardin continued.

Keilar followed up to ask if Sanders was "missing the point" by saying it's up to the Venezuelan people to determine their leader, noting the recent absence of free and fair elections in the country. Cardin said Venezuela needs to reinstitute its democratic procedures for fair and free elections.

"It will never happen under Maduro. It won't happen," Cardin said.

Cardin isn't the only member of Congress to voice opposition to Sanders's position on Venezuela. Freshman Rep. Donna Shalala (D., Fla.) on Thursday slammed the senator for not directly calling for Maduro to step down, saying, "Maduro is a dictator and must go." The congresswoman represents Venezuelan exiles in her district and has filed legislation aimed at helping Venezuelan immigrants.

"I’ll make it clear, @SenSanders does not reflect the majority of the Democratic Party and our support for Venezuela’s interim president @jguaido and the Venezuelan people. Maduro is a dictator and must go," Shalala tweeted.

Sanders "has demonstrated again that he does not understand this situation," Shalala told Politico, adding, "I absolutely disagree with his imprecision in not saying Maduro must go."

On her view of Sanders's recently announced presidential run, the congresswoman was equally unsupportive. He "is not going to be the nominee of the Democratic Party," she said.