The three presidential candidates continued their preparations yesterday for the final televised debate, scheduled for today.
It will be the second time the candidates — President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) — have crossed swords face-to-face on live television.
However, in contrast with the first debate on Dec. 3, when the media posed the questions, representatives from 12 civic groups will challenge the three on several fronts today.
A KMT spokesman said Ma had almost filled his schedule with preparations for the debate.
“Ma will try to use his performance and his vision for the nation to convince the Taiwanese people,” spokesman Yin Wei (殷瑋) said.
Yin said Tsai has sharpened her campaign rhetoric since the first debate, while Soong could possibly adjust his strategy in the second debate to attack Ma, meaning that the two could team up and go after the president.
Ma’s staff have suggested to him that he should focus on his performance over the past three years and his familiarity with various policies to win over the public in a sincere manner.
Meanwhile, Tsai’s aides expressed concern that her performance could be affected by a cold that she is suffering.
Tsai’s voice became hoarse on Thursday and she could barely speak at a campaign rally held that day.
Her aides said that Tsai’s strategy would still be to “honor Soong and bash Ma,” so that Soong does not change direction and target her.
They also said they expect Ma to attribute many of the present woes to the DPP administration of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) DPP, but said Tsai was prepared to retort.
PFP spokesman Wu Kun-yu (吳崑玉) said faced with questions from civic groups, the KMT and the DPP candidates would be subject to heavier pressure than the PFP.
The PFP is studying each of the civic groups that will take part in the debate to prepare, Wu said.
In related news, the Central Election Commission yesterday announced that official campaign activities will start today and end on Jan. 13.