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National Action Party presidential hopeful Santiago Creel said in Tijuana that he breakfasted with Sonora Gov. Guillermo Padrés on Saturday and that he had been assured there will be a level playing field in the state for the PAN's Feb. 5 election.
It was reported that top officials in Padrés's PAN government had warned PAN members who serve in the government that they could lose their posts if they did not vote for former finance minister Ernesto Cordero, seen as President Felipe Calderón's candidate.
Both Cordero and Creel trail former education minister Josefina Vázquez Mota by a wide margin in polls; some analysts say, however, that those polls are measuring the preferences of PAN sympathizers, not adherents, and that Calderón and others' reported machinations for Cordero could tilt the vote in Cordero's favor. Creel also said he hoped Baja California Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán, who is backing Cordero, will not interfere in the Feb. 5 vote.
Creel originally was going to appear in Tijuana on Monday, but his visit was moved up to Saturday after a debate among the three presidential hopefuls was set for Tuesday.
Creel, a former interior minister under President Vicente Fox who took leave from the Senate for his presidential run, was introduced at the PAN's Tijuana headquarters by federal Deputy and former Tijuana mayor Kiko Vega (at left in photo). Both Vega and Creel own homes in San Diego.
Creel did not address the political bombshell of the week, that Institutional Revolutionary Party presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto had admitted fathering two children out of wedlock. Creel also has fathered a child out of wedlock, actress Edith González's daughter Constanza, who was born in 2004. Creel publicly acknowledged his paternity in 2008. Creel was accompanied Saturday by his wife, Paulina Velasco (seen wearing Creel vest in above photo), with whom he had a daughter before they married in 2010. He and first wife had three children.
A man who said he would likely vote for Creel on Feb. 5 and who attended Creel's speech at a Chinese restaurant Saturday in Tijuana said he did not think Creel or Peña Nieto's affairs would damage their presidential chances. Sigifredo Tapia Flores, 30, who said he is trying to start his own business, has two children with his wife and one child born outside marriage. Tapia Flores said he liked Creel's emphasis on the positive. Other PANistas, however, indicated that they thought Peña Nieto's admission would harm him, and that a bounce from the Feb. 5 PAN vote could put Vázquez Mota within striking range of the former Mexico state governor.
The Federal Electoral Institute on Saturday ordered Vázquez Mota to remove a commercial from the airwaves because it essentially presented herself as the PAN candidate for president, rather than as a contender for the PAN nomination. Commercials for the July 1 presidential election will not be allowed until later in the year. Story, Frontera (PDF). Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump. Creel appears to have been careful with his electoral material: a poster standing up outside the Chinese restaurant where he addressed several hundred PANistas had the words written in relatively small letters on the left side: "Propaganda directed at members of the PAN." The slogan on the poster says "I am safe with Santiago Creel."
Photo shows the scene in the restaurant: Many of those in attendance were given free T-shirts and a meal. Creel can be seen speaking below a likeness of himself in the far right background.
At the restaurant, Creel got his biggest applause by saying of the nation's war on drugs: "Fewer bullets, more intelligence" and by lambasting Mexico's monopolies. He told a story that when he was a boy, he asked his father permission to ask PAN founder Manuel Gómez Morin a question, and then asked Gómez Morin why he named the party the PAN. He said Gómez Morin, after giving him an answer he did not understand, then told him it was named PAN (which also means bread) because Mexico was hungry for democracy and the benefits that go along with it.
Also accompanying Creel was former Querétaro Gov. Ignacio Loyola, who told the magazine Proceso earlier this month that he did not think that having a woman candidate would be a plus in the general election, noting the losses of female gubernatorial candidates Marta Elena García in Nayarit, Adriana Dávila in Tlaxcala, Xóchitl Gálvez in Hidalgo and Luisa María Calderón in Michoacán. He gave little chance for Cordero.
Update, Jan. 31: Sen. Jaime Rafael Díaz Ochoa leads rally of PANistas backing Creel in Mexicali. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).