Former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday officially turned down an offer to become the running mate of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in the January presidential election.
Su, who lost to Tsai in the DPP presidential primary in April, listed two reasons for his declining the offer in an impromptu press conference held yesterday evening.
Nominated as a candidate in the 18th place on the DPP’s legislator-at-large list a month ago, Su said his main focus would be a successful campaign for the party to win a majority in the legislature.
“If I change my mind and accept the offer, how will we explain it to the electorate?” he asked, adding that he had reiterated over and over that he had no intention to be a vice presidential candidate and he had to stay true to that pledge.
DPP sources confirmed that Tsai had visited Su on Monday to extend the invitation. Su had subsequently declined the offer via Tsai’s chief campaign manager, Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁).
As Tsai’s campaign chairman, Su said he would do his best in campaigning for Tsai as well as the party’s legislative candidates.
Su said he had not yet been able to talk to Tsai personally about his decision because of their respective hectic schedules.
Tsai’s quest for a running mate has hit snags in the past few months. While Tsai prefers a non-DPP member as her running mate, Central Bank Governor Perng Fai-nan (彭淮南), former finance minister Lin Chuan (林全) and former vice premier Lin Hsing-I (林信義) have all reportedly turned down offers, leaving her with a DPP partner as the only option.
Reports surfaced on Wednesday in the Chinese-language media that her choice has boiled down to “one of the two Su’s” — Su Tseng-chang and DPP Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全).
Su Jia-chyuan, who has previously served as Pingtung County magistrate and interior minister, is considered to be a rising star within the party.
“When the final decision is made, we will make an announcement,” Tsai said earlier yesterday.
“We would like to be flexible and keep our options open, because different campaign strategies fit different candidates,” she said.
Tsai is scheduled to go to the US from Sept. 12 to Sept. 20, where she will visit think tanks and academics in Washington, Boston, New York, Houston and Los Angeles. She will also deliver a speech at Harvard University.
She plans to meet with Taiwanese expatriates and businessmen, as well as auction off autographed white T-shirts emblazoned with her campaign slogan: “Taiwan Next.”
Additional reporting by CNA