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Joe Biden Said He 'Confronted' Venezuela's Nicolás Maduro. Is that True?

September 13, 2019

Joe Biden was winding down a rambling response to a question about the legacy of slavery in America in Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate when he brought up his record on Venezuela and the question of immigration from the troubled country.

Brushing off a moderator who was trying to cut him off, the former vice president talked about his personal experience dealing with Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro.

"By the way, in Venezuela, we should be allowing people to come here from Venezuela," Biden said. "I know Maduro. I’ve confronted Maduro."...

Eric Farnsworth, a former official in the Clinton White House and in the State Department who is now a vice president of the Council of the Americas, said Biden invoked his conversations with Maduro to emphasize how his foreign policy experience is different from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who was also asked on Thursday about his refusal to call Maduro a dictator.

"This is clearly a differentiator to position Bernie Sanders as out of touch and more in tune with an ideology than a foreign policy approach," Farnsworth said. "Biden is saying 'Maduro's a bad dude. I know him, I've negotiated with him. This is a messy situation.' It plays into this narrative that Sanders is too far to the left and too far out there."...

Farnsworth said Biden’s remark that he confronted Maduro is open to interpretation.

"I don’t know whether it's healthy to say [the Obama-Biden administration] confronted [Maduro] or not," Farnsworth said. "Was it done effectively? Maduro's still there so draw your own conclusions. Then again, what the Trump administration has done is working its way through the process and Maduro is still there."...

And Farnsworth said the images that give the Trump campaign ammunition to attack Biden also show his longstanding foreign policy work.

"If you're the vice president of the United States, you're going to be meeting with a lot of people and there's going to be a lot of pictures floating around. That doesn't mean you agree with them," Farnsworth said.

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