Chavez Won't Answer U.S. Candidates' 'Attacks'

In this picture released by Miraflores Press Office, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, speaks during his weekly broadcast "Alo Presidente" in Caracas, March 2, 2008. (AP Photo/Miraflores Press Office)

ARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says both U.S. presidential candidates have been making "gratuitous attacks" against him, but he won't rise to the bait.

Chavez says he'll wait for Republican John McCain or Democrat Barack Obama to be elected and then "try to understand each other."

Chavez said in a speech Friday that "I don't respond to candidates." He expelled the U.S. ambassador last week and has accused Washington of trying to oust him.

McCain criticized Chavez in a radio interview broadcast Thursday, saying he is among a group of Latin American autocrats more interested in wielding power than helping their people. Obama has said the U.S. needs to be independent of Middle Eastern and Venezuelan oil.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)