Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney responded to President Obama's comments on Hugo Chavez with this statement:
“This is a stunning and shocking comment by the President. It is disturbing to see him downplaying the threat posed to U.S. interests by a regime that openly wishes us ill. Hugo Chavez has provided safe haven to drug kingpins, encouraged regional terrorist organizations that threaten our allies like Colombia, has strengthened military ties with Iran and helped it evade sanctions, and has allowed a Hezbollah presence within his country's borders. And he is seeking to lead – together with the Castros – a destabilizing, anti-democratic, and anti-American ‘Bolivarian Revolution’ across Latin America. President Obama's remarks continue a pattern of weakness in his foreign policy, one that has emboldened adversaries and diminished U.S. influence in every region of the world. As president, I will speak clearly and resolutely on the challenges we face so that both our allies and our adversaries will know where we stand.”
President Obama's statement was made in a response to a question about Iran's relationship with Chavez.
"We're always concerned about Iran engaging in destabilizing activity around the globe," Obama told a TV host. "But overall my sense is that what Mr. Chávez has done over the last several years has not had a serious national security impact on us. We have to be vigilant. My main concern when it comes to Venezuela is having the Venezuelan people have a voice in their affairs, and that you end up ultimately having fair and free elections, which we don't always see."