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Tuesday, May 8, 2011

Analysts see Peña Nieto as having fended off attacks in debate

IFE apologizes over busty model used as debate window dressing; debate outdoes soccer game in ratings, but loses to other TV show

Analysts on Tuesday wrote that while front-runner Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party received some body blows during Sunday's debate, he generally was able to fend off the attacks and show he could think on his feet.

Excélsior Columnist Leo Zuckermann said he thought the biggest blow against Peña Nieto was delivered by Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party, who said Peña Nieto was the product of his predecessor as Mexico state governor, Arturo Montiel, who was involved in a major corruption scandal. (Zuckermann calls Montiel Peña Nieto's uncle: while they are distantly related, it would probably would be better to use the term "political uncle." Zuckermann pointed out that Peña Nieto counterattacked by remembering the financial scandal involving René Bejarano when López Obrador was Mexico City mayor. López Obrador then delivered what Zuckermann called a body blow, reminding Peña Nieto that not only Bejarano but also city finance official Gustavo Ponce went to jail, that Ponce was the equivalent to Peña Nieto in Montiel's administration, but that Peña Nieto was onstage debating to be president.

Zuckermann said Peña Nieto did not appear to know how to respond to National Action Party candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota's pointing out that the group Mexican Transparency said the state of Mexico, during Peña Nieto's term, was the second-most corrupt state in the country. Zuckermann said Peña Nieto responded by attacking Vázquez Mota's voting record.

Zuckermann said he was not writing about the debate performance of New Alliance Party candidate Gabriel Quadri because "he is a ploy by (teachers union leader) la maestra Elba Esther Gordillo to put a pretty face on an unpresentable party." Many said they thought Quadri put in the best debate performance. Columnist Jorge Zepeda Patterson said he thought Gordillo had won the debate and now would be able to keep her party'ss registration. Columnist Sergio Sarmiento wrote that Quadri showed he speaks well and has well-thought-out ideas. On Tuesday, Quadri said he thought Vázquez Mota and López Obrador had lost the debate because they attacked Peña Nieto rather than concentrating on their proposals for the country. Columns in Frontera (PDF).

The Mexican political analyst Catón wrote that he thought Peña Nieto was a winner because he exceeded expectations; Quadri was a winner because of his intelligent, lucid answers; that Vázquez Mota neither lost nor won; and that López Obrador was the loser, and that the populist looked old and that his invocation of Mexico's historical figures made him look even more out of date. Catón's column (PDF).

model Julia Orayen and Josefina Vazquez Mota Meanwhile, the Federal Electoral Institute apologized over the revealing dress used by a former Playboy model from Argentina who took envelopes to the candidates onstage. Julia Orayen's dress exposed a large part of her ample bosom. Stories in Frontera (PDF). Cartoon about the model (PDF). She apparently was paid $260 for the appearance.
Update, May 10: Debate producer, called on the carpet over the model, says he will not produce the second, June 10, debate. Story in Frontera (PDF).
Photo from TV: Josefina Vázquez Mota and Julia Orayen, with Gabriel Quadri in the background.

The debate received a television rating of 12.2, above the 10.7 for the Monarcas-Tigres soccer match on TV Azteca that was controversially aired at the same time, but well below the 17.0 rating for the TV show "Pequeños Gigantes." Story in Frontera (PDF).

Update, May 9: Zuckermann says the true scandal about the debate was not the silly issue of the model but that the candidates did not serious discuss the violence Mexico is suffering through. His column (PDF).
Update, May 11: IFE says debate cost 4.1 million pesos ($303,000), with 61,470 ($4,500) going to a model (edecanes) agency and 3,500 pesos ($260) going to the former Playboy model, Julia Orayen. The moderator, Guadalupe Juárez, was paid 73,000 pesos ($5,400) Story in Frontera (PDF).
Update, May 12: Quadri visits Tijuana. Story, Frontera (PDF).

Debate story