CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela's animated campaign ahead of its April 14 presidential election has seen its share of shake-your-head remarks by both candidates: Interim President Nicolas Maduro of the ruling party, and opposition candidate Henrique Capriles. Here's a sampling:
Maduro, talking about Chavez appearing to him as "little bird" as he prayed:
"It sang, and I responded with a song and the bird took flight, circled around once and then flew away, and I felt the spirit and blessings of Commander Hugo Chavez for this battle." (Maduro added sounds of wings flapping and bird chirps.)
"I believe he ate a little bird, because that's what he's got inside his head."
"Now the bourgeoisie and the right are talking about Maduro's little bird. What do they think? That we're ridiculous? Show some respect, gentlemen."
ON WHY PEOPLE VOTE:
"Of course I can win. The act of voting is a rational, and emotional, act."
ON CHAVEZ (II):
"I don't have any doubt that if any man who walked this earth did what was needed so that Christ the redeemer would give him a seat at his side, it was our redeemer liberator of the 21st century, the comandante Hugo Chavez."
ON THE POLLS:
Capriles, on polls showing him trailing:
"I don't think there is any poll that can take a snapshot of what is happening in Venezuela."
"In homage and in honor of our commander there is but one destiny: Victory, the victory of the Venezuelan people against the forces of evil, against the forces of darkness."
"I alert all the people about the oligarchy and its obsession to destroy the Bolivarian revolution that our comandante Chavez built, to destroy democracy. ...They have already begun with dollars financed by the imperialist elites."
"I tell you, as chief of state, this campaign of intolerance violates the constitution which guarantees to all Venezuelans their political rights. We must consider actions to put an end to the fascist intolerance of these heirs of Hitler."
ON THE NUMBERS:
Capriles, who lost an October election to Chavez by 8 million to 6.5 million votes, or 55-45 percent:
"For them to get the same amount of votes as the president (Chavez), to me would be fraud. ... I'm not sure anyone would believe it."
ON MY OPPONENT:
Capriles, on Maduro:
"I tell you clearly, Nicolas, I am not going to speak of the times you lied to the country, shamelessly. ...The people have not voted for you, boy."
Maduro, on Capriles:
"He's become crazy. His eyes are popping out of his head. Why are they popping out? Whatever the reason, he's obsessed with me."
Capriles, who is single, responding to Maduro's public suggestions that he is gay:
"I'm like a captain of a ship: I have a woman in every port."
AND A NON-PARTISAN MILITARY:
Adm. Diego Molero, the defense minister of an officially non-partisan armed forces:
"The national armed forces will not fail Chavez. ... Once elections are organized, we will honor his wishes and we will give the fascists a tough blow."