Hugo Chavez Says He Would Vote for Obama

Controversial Venezuelan leader gives approval to fellow incumbent president up for re-election.

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President Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan dictator who once called President George W. Bush "the devil," has endorsed Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential race, according to the Associated Press.

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"If I were American, I'd vote for Obama," Chavez said in a televised interview Sunday. "And I believe that if Obama was from Caracas, he would vote for Chavez, I am positive."

Like his preferred presidential candidate, Chavez is running for re-election this year in what is expected to be a very tight presidential race for the incumbent. The Venezuelan leader—who called Bush "a drunk" who oversaw a government Chavez saw as the "first enemy" of Venezuela—has warmed towards America with Obama at the helm.

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Chavez has consistently praised Obama, calling him an "intelligent man," comparing him John F. Kennedy, and dubbing him "a good guy."

"I wish we could begin a new period of normal relations with the government of the United States," Chavez said in a television interview Sunday.

For his part, Obama has maintained a safe distance from Chavez. He has approved of Venezuela's "fair and free elections" and said the country has not posed a "serious national security impact" on America, but has not gone as far to endorse its leader.

Chavez is running for re-election despite continuing health concerns—he has spent much of the past two years undergoing cancer treatment. Venezuelans will determine whether he reigns another six years as president at the polls on Oct. 7.