Venezuela's socialist president is hailing U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders as a "revolutionary friend."

President Nicolas Maduro says the Democratic Party candidate would be the U.S. president if elections were free in the United States and did not depend on the electoral college.

Sanders describes himself as a democratic socialist and has called Maduro's mentor, the late President Hugo Chavez, a "dead communist dictator."

In his comments Tuesday night, Maduro also criticized presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and said he might win because of the flawed electoral system.

Maduro himself has seen his popularity in Venezuela slump as the country struggles with deep economic problems, from shortages of basic goods to high inflation. Polls say a majority of Venezuelans want him gone this year.