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Josefina Vázquez Mota thanked Tijuana on Monday night for helping her win the National Action Party's presidential nomination Feb. 5.
She said Tijuana gave her more votes than other city. "You brought me victory!" she said. "Thank you, Tijuana." She also said she won 25 states, including Baja California.
Wednesday is the last day that candidates can be out and about publicly until March 30, the day the presidential race officially begins. Frontera newspaper said her campaign may open that day in Ensenada, the home city of Ernesto Ruffo, the first opposition governor elected during the 1929-2000 reign of the Institutional Revolutionary Party. Ruffo, mayor of Ensenada from 1986-1989 and Baja California governor from 1989-1995, now is a candidate for the federal Senate. He was on stage Monday night, along with Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán (who had backed Ernesto Cordero for the nomination), Baja California Sur governor Marcos Covarrubias and Ruffo's Senate running mate, former Mexicali Mayor Víctor Hermosillo.
Vázquez Mota singled out Ruffo for high praise, saying that when she decided to run, she sought the approval of two prominent PANistas: Ruffo and Carlos Medina Plascencia, the first PAN governor of Guanajuato (1991-1995). Medina, who was succeeded in that post by Vicente Fox, gave her his immediate blessing. She said that when she talked with Ruffo, he pulled out his wallet, making her think that she was about to get her first donation for her presidential run. Instead, he took out an image of a mestiza woman symbolizing Mexico that he said he had carried with him since he became governor. He said he wanted her to become president because she was loyal to the nation and its families. She said he had told her he was going to turn 60 this year and did not want to see it return to authoritarian rule. She then drew a rise out of the crowd by saying, "We'll celebrate your birthday in Los Pinos (the Mexican White House)." That could happen, but only if Vázquez Mota goes to Los Pinos with Ruffo to celebrate with President Felipe Calderón or his wife: Ruffo's 60th birthday takes place a week before the July 1 general election. He was born June 25, 1952, in San Diego. She also badly trails PRI front-runner Enrique Peña Nieto.
She got major applause lines when talking about how she would help women. She referred to a Chinese saying that women hold up half the sky, adding that in Mexico, there are women who hold up the entire sky. She said part of the ways she would help women would be to provide all-day schools for children so that they will be safer. Most attend half-day sessions, either in the morning or afternoon. A group of five women who attended from a poor, faraway neighborhood said they were glad to have to come to the speech, despite having had to pay 140 pesos ($11) among themselves on public transportation to attend. There was no mass busing in of supporters, as the PRI tends to do for such events.
Vázquez closed with a moving tribute to Gloria Cossio de Blake, who was married to the interior minister who died in a helicopter crash in November. Cossio and Francisco Blake Mora's siblings added their voices to Vázquez Mota's campaign last month. Cossio was among those on stage. Vázquez Mota said she would work to construct the Mexico that Blake wanted.
The event had been scheduled for 6 p.m. but Vázquez Mota did not come on stage until 7:20. More than 2,000 were in attendance, but there were many empty seats at Tijuana's Municipal Auditorium. Technically, her appearance was not a campaign act, but rather part of a thank-you tour. A large poster hanging in the auditorium even said "Gira del Agradecimiento" (Tour of Gratitude). The PAN has complained that Peña Nieto's appearance in Mexicali last week was a campaign event in violation of federal electoral rules. However, Vázquez Mota's campaign has skirted IFE rules: last year, billboards went up touting her state-of-Congress speech and also her new book. (Nothing to do with her political campaign!)
Vázquez Mota (right background) greets supporters after her talk while prominent PANistas stand on stage; a woman wears a T-shirt saying "Tecate with JVM."
The photo of Vázquez Mota and Ruffo above was taken at her media conference in Tijuana last month.
A representation of La Patria (below).
Update, Feb. 15: Frontera's political page talks about the empty seats in the municipal auditorium (PDF).