Mon, Jan 07, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Party heavyweights hit campaign trail

STAR TURNS Leveraging support from the 'populars,' the political stars seen to be capable of adding votes, has become one of the most favored campaign tactics

By Huang Chung-jung  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH CNA

A group of bellydancers perform at an election campaign meeting for Democratic Progressive Party legislative candidate Kao Chien-chih in Taipei yesterday. The poster in the background shows Kao, center, DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh, left, and Hsieh's running-mate Su Tseng-chang giving the thumbs up-sign.

PHOTO: CHANG CHIA-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

With the legislative election battle reaching boiling point with less than a week to go, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) "big guns" engaged in non-stop campaigning around the country yesterday to stump for their prospective legislative candidates.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who doubles as DPP chairman, was shaking hands and working the crowd in Taoyuan, Taichung and Miaoli yesterday morning. He then showed up at campaign rallies in Chunghua in the evening.

Other pan-green heavyweights such as DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), his running mate Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) also criss-crossed the nation stumping for their party's legislative hopefuls.

The pan-blue camp's big guns also spent the last Sunday before the legislative poll on Saturday gearing up support for the KMT's legislative candidates.

Former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰), who had not made many public appearances recently, has been on a tight campaign schedule for the past few days. He campaigned yesterday for five candidates in Pingtung and Kaohsiung, constituencies which are considered DPP strongholds.

KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) appeared in Taipei, stumping for the KMT's candidates after attending a campaign event in Miaoli earlier in the day.

Later yesterday, Ma was at a campaign rally in Kaohsiung County while KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) was campaigning for a KMT candidate in Chiayi.

Ma said candidates from all around the nation had urged him to campaign for them ahead of the election.

KMT legislative caucus leader Kuo Su-chun (郭素春), an at-large candidate in this year's race, has been attending rallies around the country for fellow KMT candidates and said appearances by Ma have been an asset to their campaigns.

While candidates could judge for themselves how many votes the big names would be worth in their constituencies, Kuo said that from her experience "most KMT candidates believe the charismatic Ma appeals to the voters and they want to capitalize on it."

Lin Tsang-min (林滄敏), an incumbent KMT lawmaker locked in a tight battle in Changhua County, was one of those hoping to benefit from Ma's presence.

He said he has found that his campaign gets a real boost when Ma arrives in the county and stumps on his behalf.

Leveraging support from "Mr or Ms Popular" is becoming one of the most favored campaign tactics in this election. The "populars" are the political stars seen to be capable of livening up campaign platform presentations, fueling election battles and adding votes for the candidates they support.

For the pan-green camp, Government Information Office Minister Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) is considered the most effective "Mr Popular."

DPP Legislator Chuang Suo-hang (莊碩漢), who is seeking re-election, said that to pan-green supporters, Shieh has become a hero and a "rock star" politician, with good stage charisma. He is youthful and energetic, penetrates to the core of the issues with his speeches, thinks fast yet logically and blends an international presence with a local mind, Chuang said.

Chuang's comments were echoed by DPP Legislator Sandy Yen (莊和子), who also said Shieh was the pan-green camp's most sought after star campaigner.

Other pan-green "populars" include Hsieh, Su and former vice premier Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).

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