Ma, Hau dismiss idea of Soong dropping out of race

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Thu, Dec 07, 2006 - Page 3

With the Taipei mayoral election only two days away, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and party candidate Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) dismissed the idea of a "dump-and-save" strategy that would call for People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) to drop out of the race.

Ma and Hau said that the KMT was not urging voters to "dump Soong to save Hau" to prevent a split in the pan-blue vote. They refused to respond to Soong's recent criticism of the KMT.

Hau, however, expressed worries about a pan-blue split.

"We are not that optimistic about the election, as any election is unpredictable. There is a possibility that I would lose the election if pan-blue's votes were split," Hau said at his campaign headquarters while meeting the press.

Although Hau has been leading in most opinion polls, he said the pan-blue camp had predicted that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) could get about 36 percent to 43 percent of the votes.

Commenting on Hsieh's invitation to former DPP chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄) to campaign for him, Hau said it was normal during campaigns to invite party heavyweights to boost support for a candidate.

"If a candidate failed to present a solid platform and tried to win the election through the use of smear campaigns, it would be useless [to ask others to help] even if he invited God to campaign for him," Hau said.

Ma accompanied Hau as he stumped through the Datung district, criticized Hsieh for indulging in groundless speculation about Soong withdrawing.

"Chairman Soong and I did not talk about `dumping and saving' in our meeting, and I do not think he will withdraw from the election ? Hsieh said that because he has no other issues to talk about," the Taipei mayor said.

Pledging to win the election, Hau said he would make a serious effort to repair relations with the pan-green camp and seek cross-party cooperation.

Hau plans to spend today and tomorrow visiting as many districts as possible, especially those with military families, who mostly support the pan-blue camp.

Ma will be in Kaohsiung to stump for KMT mayoral candidate Huang Chun-ying (黃俊英).

Meanwhile, KMT Spokesman Huang Yu-cheng (黃玉振) apologized for mistakenly sending a text message to reporters who cover the KMT beat.

"The Soong-[DPP Chairman] Yu [Shyi-kun] meeting didn't happen because Soong's conditions that the DPP should give up its position on independence and agree to the opening of direct transportation to Shanghai were not accepted," the text message read.

Huang said that the message was part of a report on news coverage of election-related topics and that staff members had erred in sending it to reporters.

Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan