Several key Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) figures absented themselves from KMT presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu’s (洪秀柱) visits to Changhua and Yunlin counties on Friday and Saturday, a gesture that political observers said were aimed at drawing a line between them and Hung.
The visits were part of a nationwide campaign launched last week, but Hung’s trip to Changhua on Friday saw the absence of local KMT legislators Lin Tsang-min (林滄敏) and Cheng Ru-fen (鄭汝芬), and an early exit by KMT Legislator Wang Hui-mei (王惠美), unlike the warm reception Hung received from all eight KMT legislators in Taichung on Thursday.
Former Yunlin County commissioner Chang Jung-wei (張榮味) and KMT Legislator Chang Chia-chun (張嘉郡) did not attend Hung’s campaign event in Yunlin on Saturday.
A senior KMT legislator, who declined to be named, said that the cold shoulder Hung received could become a theme as she heads farther south, as legislative candidates doubt her ability to win votes in constituencies in central and southern Taiwan.
Hung’s narratives have been unsatisfying, and her previous unilateral discourse on China has squandered the KMT’s advantage on cross-strait issues, alienating herself from pro-localization KMT legislators, in addition to her inability to court neutral voters, the unnamed legislator said.
“If you are not helpful, others cannot help but distance themselves from you,” the unnamed legislator said.
The legislator quoted some KMT members from central and southern municipalities as saying: “Hung’s visit is harmful to us. Voters would cross out anyone who is associated with Hung.”
KMT Legislator Chen Ken-te (陳根德) said that the party has earned a dim electoral prospect with Hung’s cross-strait policies and a sluggish economy caused by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, coupled with a provocative remark by a KMT member at the party’s national congress, who said: “Taiwanese have failed the KMT.”
Chen questioned the KMT’s strategy of tying the legislative campaign to the presidential campaign, saying: “If the legislative campaigns are bundled with the presidential campaigns, the candidates might all go to hell.”
Saying that the party could not shift the responsibility onto district legislative candidates alone, Chen questioned what contribution the KMT headquarters and the party’s local chapters have made in formulating separate strategies for legislative and presidential campaigns.
Likening Hung to a mother hen, with legislative candidates as her chicks, Chen said that the hen’s inability to lead the chicks had brought about the absence of local legislators from Hung’s campaign events.
“The mother hen might trample her chicks to death, but the chicks are tied to the hen; they would die with her,” Chen said.
The KMT should separate presidential and legislative campaigns, and the party should mobilize prominent local politicians to stump for Hung, while campaigning for legislative candidates in different, but more useful, ways, which could help the KMT retain a few more seats in the legislature if it loses the presidential race, Chen said.
The KMT should analyze the results of last year’s nine-in-one elections and disconnect the legislative campaigns from the presidential campaign in pan-green strongholds to minimize collateral damage, he said.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said that Hung’s stumping is a recipe for disaster for other candidates, as her inclination toward hasty unification and blatant refusal of localization pose a sharp contrast to public sentiment in the nation’s south.
Election is realpolitik, and the KMT’s pro-localization legislators are not to blame if they adopt a more practical measure by separating their campaigns from Hung’s, Chen said.
In related news, Hung spokesman Jack Yu (游梓翔) yesterday said he plans to stand down from his position on Saturday, a little more than a month after he accepted the role.
On Facebook, Yu said he would return to his teaching job at Shih Hsin University, but that he would continue to advise Hung’s campaign team on matters related to public and media relations.
Additional reporting by CNA
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