President Trump vowed during his State of the Union address on Tuesday that "America will never be a socialist country," in an apparent rebuke to self-described Democratic socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders that drew loud cheers and a standing ovation from Republicans in the House chamber -- as well as supportive applause from House speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Trump cited the economic decline and civil disorder in Venezuela as a cautionary tale, after his administration last week imposed sweeping sanctions against the incumbent regime of Nicolas Maduro.
The country's government in recent years limited citizens' access to foreign currency, implemented substantial subsidies and price controls on food and other items, and fell victim to sweeping corruption -- before effectively collapsing last month.
"Two weeks ago, the United States officially recognized the legitimate government of Venezuela, and its new interim president, Juan Guaido," Trump began. "We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom -- and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair.
"Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country," Trump continued, prompting boos from Republicans in the chamber. "America was founded on liberty and independence -- not government coercion, domination and control. We are born free, and we will stay free."