Evangelist backs off chavez Assessination call
Pat Robertson said he was misinterpreted
WASHINGTON – Conservative U.S. evangelist Pat Robertson, who called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, said he was misinterpreted and there were a number of ways to «take him out» including kidnapping.
«I said our special forces could take him out. Take him out could be a number of things including kidnapping,» Robertson said on his «The 700 Club» television program.
«There are a number of ways of taking out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted,» Robertson added.
Robertson, the founder of the Christian Coalition and a presidential candidate in 1988, said on Monday of Chavez, one of Bush’s most vocal critics: «If he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.»
«We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability.» He made the comments during his «The 700 Club» television program.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday dismissed Robertson’s remarks, but the White House remained silent despite calls for repudiation from Venezuela and religious leaders including the Rev. Jesse Jackson. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called «without fact and baseless» any ideas of hostile action against Chavez or Venezuela.
The leftist Chavez has often accused the United States of plotting his overthrow or assassination. Alongside Cuban President Fidel Castro in Havana on Sunday, Chavez scoffed at the idea that he and Castro were destabilizing troublemakers.
Chavez survived a short-lived coup in 2002 that he says was backed by the United States. Washington denies involvement.
Venezuelan officials said Robertson’s remarks, while those of a private citizen, took on more significance given his ties to President George W. Bush’s Christian-right supporters.
«Mr Robertson has been one of this president’s staunchest allies. His statement demands the strongest condemnation by the White House,» Venezuela’s ambassador to the United States Bernardo Alvarez said.