After keeping the public guessing for two months, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday formally accepted the pan-blue alliance's invitation to head its presidential campaign.
"Due to my responsibility for the people, the party and the nation, I've decided to accept the post," said Wang following a visit to his house in Luchu (路竹), Kaohsiung, by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜).
A large group of pan-blue legislators and the alliance's regional campaign managers, including Yunlin County Commissioner Chang Jung-wei (張榮味) and Taipei County council speaker Hsu Tsai-en (許再恩), also made the trip to Luchu.
"Wang's addition to the alliance's campaign team is a boost that surpasses the large number of mounted and foot soldiers' (千軍萬馬)," Lien said, using a Chinese idiom meaning a powerful army to illustrate his confidence in Wang.
Wang said that he firmly supported Soong and Lien's presidential bid.
"From this moment on, I will follow the two chairmen and dive headfirst into the campaign war," said Wang.
Wang also serves as one of the KMT's vice chairmen.
Wang, a Kaohsiung County native, is regarded by many pan-blue supporters as the key representative of the KMT's pro-localization faction.
Commenting on his initial reluctance to take the job, Wang said he was eventually persuaded by the backing of fellow members and the sincerity expressed by Lien and Soong.
Pan-blue legislators said Wang's acceptence of the position was a big boost to the alliance's electoral outlook.
Noting that Wang enjoyed a lot of public support in central and southern Taiwan, KMT legislative leader Lee Chia-chin (
Last night the alliance staged a massive campaign rally in Kaohsiung County's Fongshan Stadium where Wang announced to the crowd his acceptance of the campaign-director post.
Meanwhile, Lien said he wanted to deliver two warnings: one to Beijing and one to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
"I want to warn China to respect Taiwan domestic's choice and not to intervene in the Republic of China's election," Lien told supporters at the rally.
In the run up to the 2000 presidential election, threatening rhetoric from China's then premier Zhu Rongji (朱鎔基) helped Chen's popularity.
"My second warning is to Chen, to not to rely on Beijing to get elected," Lien said, accusing Chen of provoking Beijing with talk of independence.