Mack Criticizes Chavez Government after MLB Player Kidnapping

MIAMI, FL- The new GOP front-runner in the race for U.S Senate in Florida called for an American travel embargo to Venezuela following the kidnapping of Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos.

"Since the State Department will not act, I would tell all Americans to cease traveling to Venezuela and for businesses to reconsider operating there as a matter of personal safety for their employees, " U.S. Congressman Connie Mack said in a statement to FOX.

Mack also criticized President Barack Obama for not taking a stronger approach against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez who has been a lighting rod for conservative detractors in the United States over controversial measures he has taken against opposition groups while in power.

"The Obama Administration and the State Department have continued to coddle the corrupt, terrorist supporting Chavez regime in Venezuela," Mack added. "Regrettably, the tragedy of the kidnapping of Wilson Ramos has yet again underscored the failures of this Administration in picking our friends and allies in Latin America."

Mack has been a fervent, and frequent critic of Chavez and his Socialist government's ties to Iran and Cuba. As chairman of the Congressional Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, he has repeatedly sought to label Venezuela as a state sponsor of terrorism. Under the Chavez government, drug crime, gun violence & especially kidnappings have risen dramatically in Venezuela, Mack has argued.

Ramos, a Venezuelan citizen, was taken by armed gunmen on Wednesday in front of his parent's home in Santa Ines, but was released late Friday after an extensive search for the Major League Baseball player who just completed his rookie season.

The weight of Mack's stance against Chavez's government has carried more significance in recent days. In a new Quinnipiac University poll released Friday, Mack has risen to be the clear front runner among the GOP field after entering the race last month.

According the survey, 32 percent of GOP voters support Mack, while none of his four opponents which include former U.S Senator George LeMieux and former Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner get more than 9 percent.

In a head to head matchup with incumbent Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson, Mack is in a statistical dead heat.

"The entrance of Congressman Connie Mack into the Senate race changes what had been shaping up as an easy reelection for Sen. Bill Nelson into a tough fight that the incumbent could lose," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "The fact that Mack is essentially tied with Nelson, who has been a statewide political figure for two decades, should set off warning bells at Democratic headquarters."

From October 31 - November 7, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,185 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points. The survey includes 513 Republicans with a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percent.