Mon, Oct 23, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Pan-blue split colors campaign launch

TAIPEI MAYORAL ELECTION Wang Jin-pyng yesterday stressed that the race in Taipei required the KMT and the PFP to combine their efforts to avoid a repeat of past elections

By Mo Yan-chih, Shih Hsiu-chuan and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) Taipei mayoral candidate Hau Lung-bin, center, smiles and walks down the stairs accompanied by KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou, left, and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, right, during an event to celebrate the founding of his campaign headquarters yesterday.

PHOTO: WANG MIN-WEI, TAIPEI TIMES

Since People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) declared his candidacy in the Taipei mayoral race, the opposition parties have faced the prospect of a split vote that has the potential to cost them the election. Independent Legislator Li Ao (李敖) has also joined the race.

To avoid a split vote, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is trying to shore up support for its candidate, while the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is seeking to exploit the rift between the KMT and its erstwhile ally.

KMT heavyweights yesterday rallied to win broad pan-blue support for their Taipei mayoral candidate Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌).

Led by party Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), top officials of the KMT, legislators and city councilors including Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and Vice Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) attended the party's campaign launch at Hau's campaign headquarters, and urged pan-blue voters to support the KMT candidate and dismissed concerns that Hau has failed to attain full support from his party.

"With three mayoral candidates from the pan-blue camp, more than 70 percent of pan-blue voters said they feel a sense of crisis. If you agree with them, please gather up your votes and support Hau Lung-bin," Ma said, addressing the launch ceremony in front of the campaign headquarters.

He urged pan-blue voters to "teach [President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁)] a lesson and force him to face mainstream opinion by electing Hau."

"If the DPP lost the Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral elections, Chen would realize the power of public opinion," he added.

Wang, who showed up at Soong's (宋楚瑜) book-launch party when Soong declared his mayoral candidacy, yesterday stressed that the Taipei mayoral election -- as much as the 2008 presidential election -- required the KMT and the PFP to combine their efforts to win.

"History serves as a mirror for us ? Do we really want to repeat our failures? The KMT and the PFP should share the responsibility to find a smooth path for the pan-blue camp in the elections," Wang told the press before addressing the ceremony.

Wang made the comments to remind supporters not to repeat the result of the 1994 Taipei mayoral election, when two pan-blue candidates split the ticket and gave Chen a surprise victory.

In response to comments made by some party legislators that Ma should take full responsibility and resign if the KMT loses the year-end elections, Wang said the party should focus its efforts on electing Hau, rather than discussing such a "meaningless" issue.

While Ma had said that he would not allow the KMT to lose the Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral elections, Hau yesterday said he will shoulder all responsibility if he loses the election.

Promising to clean up the Tamsui River (淡水河) and revitalize old communities, Hau lashed out at his DPP rival Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) for conducting a smear campaign and targeting his father, former premier Hau Pei-tsun (郝柏村).

"I don't know who Hsieh is competing with, me or my father," he said.

KMT Legislator Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), a former Kaohsiung mayor who lost the 1998 Kaohsiung mayoral election to Hsieh, also joined Hau to attack Hsieh for conducting a smear campaign, urging voters to support Hau.

With chances of dissuading Soong from joining the election fading, the KMT has placed its hopes on the so-called "dump-save effect" by raising the sense of crisis among pan-blue voters and urging them to dump Soong and vote for Hau in the election.

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