Wed, Apr 11, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Mota alters course to narrow gap as Mexico’s poll nears


National Action Party presidential candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota speaks during a press conference in Mexico City on Monday.

Photo: Reuters

The candidate of Mexico’s ruling party retooled her presidential campaign on Monday, promising a more aggressive strategy to win undecided voters and adding new members to her campaign team following a series of missteps in the first week of the race.

Josefina Vazquez Mota, who is trailing Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party in the polls ahead of the July 1 vote, blamed the campaign problems on divisions within her National Action Party that have been overcome with Monday’s “course correction.”

The 51-year-old’s campaign has been marred by poor logistics, late-starting events, a speaking gaffe and a dizzy spell that interrupted one of her speeches.

Vazquez Mota, who is seeking to become Mexico’s first female president, won her party’s nomination in a primary even though most analysts considered rival Ernesto Cordero, the former finance secretary, as the preferred choice of outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderon and the party establishment.

“I have demanded that the party leave behind all internal conflicts and that once and for all we work together for victory,” she said.

She said that Cordero and other Calderon allies, including his sister, have joined her campaign and said the internal strife was now “part of the past.”

She is trying to have “all of National Action behind her ... [especially] those close to Calderon that didn’t support her during the primary,’’ said Macario Schettino, an analyst and professor at Monterrey Technological Institute.

Her campaign would now focus on undecided voters, about one-third of the electorate, and it would have the input of foreign campaign advisers who have worked on the successful election bids of female candidates, she said.

Last Monday, Vazquez Mota felt faint during a speech and had to interrupt her address and sit down to continue. The campaign dismissed the episode as a brief spell of low blood pressure, but images of her looking ill dominated TV news for several days.

Days earlier, she misspoke during a speech and said she planned to “strengthen money laundering” if elected. The next day, a campaign rally had to be called off because of a nearby picket line of striking airline workers — a cancellation her staff blamed on poor planning.

Vazquez Mota canceled campaign stops on Saturday in Veracruz and instead conducted a strategic planning and evaluation session to find ways to strengthen her campaign.

She said her strategy would now be more aggressive and she would address every criticism from her opponents.

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