GOP senator asks Sanders supporters if they'd like to move to Venezuela

GOP Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.) hammered Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden says he won't legalize marijuana because it may be a 'gateway drug' Democrats seize on report of FedEx's Bernie Sanders tax bill to slam Trump's tax plan If we want to save earth, we need to change how we eat MORE (I-Vt.) on Wednesday, comparing the Democratic presidential hopeful's policies to those of Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro and asking if Sanders's supporters would move to Venezuela. 

“I’m going to the Venezuelan border next week. I’m going to Colombia. I’ll be at the Venezuelan border. If you like Bernie Sanders, why don’t you go ahead and move to Caracas?” Scott said during an appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

The Florida senator appeared to roll his eyes when a co-host sought to distinguish socialist policies as advocated by Maduro's government with democratic socialism, a label that Sanders has used to describe his beliefs for years.

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"It's a choice, do we want a free market ... or do you want the government to dictate exactly what everybody is going to do?" Scott asked later.

Scott, who represents a state with more than 100,000 Venezuelans and Venezuelan Americans, has emerged as one of Maduro’s most vociferous detractors in the U.S. as the leader clings to power amid a protracted political battle in Venezuela.

Republicans have repeatedly pointed to Maduro’s socialist policies as the country experiences a severe food and medicine shortage. The Trump administration has called for Maduro to step down and has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country's interim president.

The GOP is hoping to make socialism a central theme of the 2020 election cycle as several candidates, including Sanders, promote progressive policies including “Medicare for All” and the "Green New Deal," which seeks to combat climate change by investing in environmentally friendly jobs.

“Here in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence — not government coercion, domination and control,” President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report MORE said during his State of the Union Address in February. 

Sanders, who brought many progressive platforms into the mainstream with his 2016 presidential run, is currently a front-runner in the 2020 primary pack, out-fundraising all other declared candidates and consistently polling in the top tier in crucial states like Iowa and New Hampshire.