ARI SHAPIRO, Host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Ari Shapiro.
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
President Obama has called Brazil's president the most popular politician on Earth. Unlike the man in the White House just now, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is getting a lot of credit for his stewardship of the economy.
SHAPIRO: Lula, as Brazilians call him, focused on reducing poverty in one of the world's major developing nations. Now he's hoping to transfer his popularity to his preferred successor.
INSKEEP: Brazilians choose a new president this weekend. Lula is endorsing a candidate who's likely to become the first woman to lead Brazil. NPR's Juan Forero reports from Sao Paulo.
FORERO: Unidentified People: (Singing in foreign language)
FORERO: On one narrow street in one poor district of this huge city, the crowd cried out for Dilma Rousseff. They may not know her well. But they do know that she's the president's hand-picked successor.
JAIR FERNANDEZ: (Foreign language spoken)
FORERO: Jair Fernandes said Lula was in office eight years and Rousseff would continue his policies - policies that have made this government highly popular.
FERNANDES: (Foreign language spoken)
FORERO: Lula is beloved for his generous social programs and his folksy style. It's the kind of charisma that Dilma Rousseff doesn't have, says political scientist David Fleischer.
DAVID FLEISCHER: Well, the Dilma that people knew was a very upfront, can-do taskmaster woman who was a very good administrator and manager.
FORERO: But across Brazil, many knew her simply as the Iron Lady - a 62-year-old former Marxist guerrilla who was imprisoned in the '70s under Brazil's military dictatorship. She had never run for office, Fleischer said, and lacks the common touch. So after Lula picked her, the campaign handlers went to work.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
FORERO: They turned to hair stylist Celso Kamura. His fashionable shop is located in one of Sao Paulo's toniest neighborhoods. Kamura gave her a new, more modern style - shorter hair with a reddish tint.
CELSO KAMURA: (Foreign language spoken)
FORERO: What's helped her the most, though, is that the president has been by her side throughout the campaign.
LUIZ INACIO LULA DA SILVA: (Foreign language spoken)
FORERO: Polls show she's now 25 points ahead of her nearest rival, Jose Serra, a former governor. That means she may avoid a run-off and win the presidency outright, becoming Brazil's first woman president. So in one campaign event after another, she always makes sure to mention Lula. As she did in a recent debate.
DILMA ROSETTA: (Foreign language spoken)
FORERO: Juan Forero, NPR News
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