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By David Gaddis Smith
Baja California Senate candidate Ernesto Ruffo said Thursday that the campaign kickoff for Josefina Vázquez Mota's presidential campaign just after midnight on March 30 in Ensenada will not be a repeat of the fiasco that took place for her acceptance speech Sunday in the Estadio Azul in Mexico City.
Ruffo said Vázquez Mota will start her campaign in Ensenada because it is where he became the first National Action Party mayor in 1986. Ruffo later became the first PAN governor in 1989. "Josefina has decided to be there because democracy on the PAN reality terms began in Ensenada with my election as mayor," Ruffo said. Until Ruffo, the Institutional Revolutionary Party kept other party's candidates in Mexico from winning, by hook or by crook. The PRI held the presidency from 1929-2000.
Ruffo, in a talk at the University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute, said rookies had poorly organized Vázquez Mota's speech in Mexico City. He said the event was scheduled to start at noon but began late and the person who contracted buses to bring people to the event had them programmed to leave at 1:30 p.m. Thus, many people had left the heat of the stadium by the time Vázquez Mota began her speech. Images of the candidate speaking to a half-empty stadium have not helped her cause. Ruffo said the stadium had been full.
Ruffo said he still believed Vázquez Mota could pass front-runner Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI and win the election, saying that although some polls showed her behind by double digits, he believed she was only 5 points behind.
He said that although people were bused into the stadium, a traditional practice of the PRI, those bused in Sunday were true PANistas. (Sergio Sarmiento said this week that a union member had said Mexican Social Security Institute workers were told to attend Sunday's rally.) Ruffo, who went to the Estadio Azul event, said, "I did walk around ... and I could tell they were from the PAN. Many of them very poor, but themselves to be real PANistas."
The former governor says he has his work cut out to help organize the Ensenada rally, saying "It must be a super, coordinated effort."
The Mexican presidential campaign officially begins March 30. The election is Sunday, July 1.