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Fri, Mar 03, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Lien camp says it's a two-horse race

By Jou Ying-Cheng  /  STAFF REPORTER

A dancer performs at a fund-raiser for KMT presidential hopeful Lien Chan at Kaohsiung City's World Trade Center yesterday.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Moving into the presidential election's final stages, the KMT's organizational machine has ratcheted up a gear -- as evidenced by the party's candidate, Lien Chan (連戰), who attended several rallies with a variety of social groups and organizations in Kaohsiung yesterday.

According to KMT officials, the race has boiled down to a run-off between Lien and the DPP's Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

On the first stop of his campaign tour in Kaohsiung, at China Steel (中鋼), Lien spoke to over 500 staff members who had been summoned by company board chairman Wang Chung-yu (王鍾渝) without knowing that Lien would be in attendance.

Lien called on his audience to use their social influence -- through their close networks -- to get out the voters for him in their communities.

China Steel was a wholly-owned state-run enterprise, but after partial privatization the state now holds only 40 percent of its shares.

Wang called on his employees to ensure Lien is elected.

"To vote for a president is like making a large investment. We have to choose the one with the least risk," said Wang.

Later, Lien spoke to a gathering of some 180 members of the religious group "I-Kuan Tao" (一貫道), a Confucian organization associated with traditional Chinese culture.

A campaign official said the group has mobilized nationwide for Lien through its organization.

Several prominent local politicians, including the former speaker of the Kaohsiung City Council, Chen Tien-mao (陳田錨), were also seen with Lien yesterday.

Addressing a variety of social groups at the day's events, Lien continued to play his "national security" card, this time amplifying on the cover story of the latest edition of Time magazine.

"The cover story is about Taiwan's election and the title is terrifying: `Taiwan's Fate,'" Lien said.

"Why is this? Because there are unstable factors in the election," he said.

Lien also made an appeal to voters from military veterans' villages, who until this election had been considered loyal to the KMT.

However, there has been a swing in support among this group towards independent candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜).

Although Kaohsiung is traditionally a DPP stronghold and a DPP mayor is now in power, high-ranking KMT campaign officials said yesterday that they estimated the DPP and KMT's candidates both had support ratings of about 35 percent, with Soong around 20 percent.

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