Chavez happy at "comrade" Rousseff's lead in Brazil

Sun Aug 8, 2010 4:29pm EDT

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* Venezuelan leader views Brazil candidate as ally

* Praises Dilma Rousseff's background as militant

By Andrew Cawthorne

CARACAS, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez praised Brazilian presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff's left-wing credentials on Sunday and said he was optimistic she would win the October vote.

The most radical in a generation of Latin American socialist leaders, Chavez views neighbor and economic heavyweight Brazil as an essential ally and has a good relationship with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

"Let's see what happens in October in Brazil, but we are very optimistic," Chavez said on his weekly TV program.

Rousseff, former energy minister and chief of staff for Lula, is ahead in the polls. [ID:nN06193940]

"Dilma has a trajectory like Lula's, many years of leftist militancy. She's not just an opportunist ...," said Chavez, who also praised her knowledge of the oil industry.

"She's a great comrade."

The Venezuelan leader said Lula, whose government pursues a moderate and market-friendly line, had told him that Rousseff was well on track during a meeting between the two presidents last week in Caracas.

"Lula brought me very positive information about Brazil's next president," he said.

Rousseff's main rival for the presidency is opposition candidate Jose Serra, the former governor of Sao Paulo state.

Support from Lula, one of Brazil's most popular presidents in history, and robust economic growth have been the main forces driving Rousseff's rise in the polls.

The latest poll put her at 39 percent, compared to 34 percent for Serra, less than two months before the first round of the presidential election on Oct. 3.

(Editing by Paul Simao)

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