It’s a role Mike Pence has come to know well.
The vice president departs Sunday for Latin America on the heels of yet another provocative statement from President Donald Trump that he is sure to have to answer for. This time it’s Trump’s sudden declaration that he would not rule out a “military option” in Venezuela, where President Nicolas Maduro has been consolidating power, plunging the country into chaos.
The dramatic escalation in rhetoric seemed to upend carefully crafted U.S. policy that has stressed working with regional partners to increase pressure on Maduro. It also contradicted high-level administration officials, including Trump’s own national security adviser, who had warned that any perception of U.S. intervention would stir decades’ old resentments and play into Maduro’s hands.
Experts on the region said the president’s comments Friday would undoubtedly make Pence’s task more difficult when he arrives Sunday in Cartagena, Colombia, on Venezuela’s doorstep.