CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Sunday assured hundreds of thousands of supporters he would win a victory in his Dec. 3 re-election try — a win he inferred would be a home run off the “devil,” a term he uses to refer to President George W. Bush.
The leftist leader made the statements to a sea of red-clad Venezuelans who he has gained support from over the course of his presidency.
Chavez, who is heavily favored to beat opponent Manuel Rosales, told the crowd he would confront the "devil," and that his re-election would deliver a knockout punch to the U.S.
A close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Chavez also said he would dedicate his win to Cuba, noting the Dec. 3 ballot will be the same weekend that Cuba celebrates the 50th anniversary of the landing of the yacht that carried Castro and his armed band to Cuba to launch a guerrilla war.
"This victory on Dec. 3 ... we're going to dedicate it to the 50 years since the arrival of the revolutionary boat Granma led by Fidel Castro to the coast of Cuba," Chavez said to cheers. "Fidel, applause from Venezuela! Long live Cuba! Long live revolutionary Cuba!"
Chavez, a staunch opponent of Washington, considers the ailing Cuban leader a mentor but has often said the socialism he seeks for Venezuela does not aim to copy Cuba's system. His critics, including Rosales, accuse Chavez of moving toward Cuba-style authoritarianism.
Peering through a pair of binoculars down a major avenue packed with supporters wearing the color of his party, Chavez admired what he called the "red tide."
"Our goal is not to win" the election, Chavez said amid the thunder of fireworks. "We must outdo our previous triumphs. ... We are going to win in a way that is overwhelming, crushing."
Sunday's rally was the largest in support of Chavez since campaigning began in August and appeared to number in the hundreds of thousands. There were no official estimate by police.
His rally came a day after hundreds of thousands of Rosales supporters flooded a major highway in one of the largest anti-Chavez demonstrations in years.
Rosales, a state governor who favors a free-market economy, trailed Chavez by a wide margin in an AP-Ipsos poll conducted earlier this month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.