One of President George W. Bush’s fiercest political opponents at home took his side on Thursday, calling Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez a “thug” for his remark that Bush is like the devil.
“Hugo Chavez fancies himself a modern day Simon Bolivar but all he
is is an everyday thug,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said at a news conference, referring to Chavez’ comments in a U.N. General Assembly speech on Wednesday.
“Hugo Chavez abused the privilege that he had, speaking at the United Nations,” said Pelosi, a frequent Bush critic. “He demeaned himself and he demeaned Venezuela.”
Simon Bolivar led the fight for independence against Spanish rule in several South American countries in the early 19th century and is cited by Chavez as a political model.
Chavez, a vociferous critic of Bush and the United States, has allied himself with U.S. opponents Cuba and Iran and has led a resurgence of left-wing populism in Latin America.
“The devil himself is right in the house. And the devil came here yesterday. Right here,” Chavez said as he stood at the U.N. podium where Bush spoke the day before.
“It smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of,” Chavez said.
His remarks drew applause from many of the delegates.
Bush administration officials have not responded directly to Chavez’s remarks.
“I am not going to dignify a comment by the Venezuelan president to the president of the United States. I think it is not becoming for a head of state,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Wednesday. — Reuter'