Top members from the nation’s two biggest political parties yesterday morning converged in Tainan as their campaigns gather momentum in the run-up to the Jan. 11 presidential and legislative elections.
At the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) event, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and former premier William Lai (賴清德) shared the campaign stage for the first time since they competed in the party’s presidential primary in June.
In the primary, Tsai beat Lai to win the DPP’s nomination and run for re-election.
Photo: Hung Jui-chin, Taipei Times
Lai accepted defeat gracefully, but the two have resisted running on the same ticket, although many DPP supporters have urged Tsai to pick Lai as her running mate.
Tsai and Lai arrived together to stump for DPP Legislator Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲), who has set up a campaign office in the city deemed to be a solid base of support for the party.
Joining hands, they raised their arms in a victory gesture, telling the crowd: “The DPP wins elections,” and urging them to unite and grant Tsai another term in office.
The joint appearance has raised hopes of a Tsai-Lai ticket, political observers said.
Asked if they would form a joint ticket, Tsai again said that she would announce the best choice for a running mate at an appropriate time, while Lai remained silent.
Although Lai had not made a public appearance with Tsai until yesterday, he traveled to the US last month to campaign for the party, soliciting support from Taiwanese expats.
During yesterday’s campaign stop, Tsai thanked the former premier for his efforts campaigning for her, referring to Lai’s meetings with Taiwanese in the US and his stumping for Lin.
Lai called for Tainan voters to remain strong in their support of the DPP and to maintain Tainan’s reputation as a base for democracy.
He asked voters to help the DPP win a majority in the legislative elections.
At the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) event, Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), the KMT’s presidential candidate, stumped for one of the party’s Tainan legislative candidates, former KMT chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), who opened her campaign office in the city.
Han, who arrived at Hung’s event with former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) and KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), sought to show that the KMT is united and ready to win the presidential and legislative elections.
Chu said the event’s turnout demonstrated that Tainan is not completely sewn up by the DPP, despite it being a traditional DPP stronghold.
Referring to a standing joke regarding the city’s political leanings that the DPP could nominate a watermelon and Tainan residents would still vote for it, Chu said “that is not the case,” urging supporters to unite behind Han and Hung.
Han said self-deprecatingly that he is the “muddiest” person in Taiwan, referring to the political “mud” being slung at him since becoming the KMT’s presidential candidate in July.
He said that in touring Taiwan over the past two weeks, he has heard about the plight of the nation’s farmers and fishers, and called on Tainan supporters to “wake up” and use their ballot to change the future.
Some party members have urged Chu to become Han’s running mate, while others have speculated that he would head Han’s campaign office.
Han said that more discussion is needed to decide who would become his campaign director, while Chu added that the party’s communication channels are open, without saying if he was willing to serve as the director.
Wu said that he would talk Chu into it if the KMT needs Chu to be the director and Chu has the time.
Later yesterday, Han returned to Taipei to attend an anniversary party for the Congress Party Alliance on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Building.
Han criticized the DPP and its election campaign strategy, likening it to making instant noodles.
“It fails to govern wisely when in power and seeks to win a second term by slandering its opponents, like someone pouring boiling water over instant noodles when they are hungry,” Han said.
Many people in Tainan and Pingtung County are friendly toward the DPP, but over the past two or three decades, those who have given the DPP the most support have found it harder to survive, Han said.
He called for Taiwanese to vote for him and a brighter future for the Republic of China, saying that the nation should not continue on its downward path and fade from the minds of the international community.
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