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DE RUEHME #0466/01 0272224
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R 272224Z JAN 06
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8554
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 000466
Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Leslie A. Bassett, Reasons: 1.4 (B/D)
1. (U) Summary. National Action Party (PAN) presidential candidate Felipe Calderon kicked off his campaign on January 19 in the State of Mexico, where he focused his message on rule of law, values, and economic growth. Calderon will launch a weekly one-hour radio program over the weekend and an internet-radio program next week. PRD candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) still leads the three major candidates in the polls, but Calderon's numbers are still consistently climbing. Several positions within Calderon's campaign remain unfilled. End Summary.
2. (U) Calderon kicked off his campaign on January 19 in front of 14,000 supporters at the Toreo de Cuatro Caminos stadium in the State of Mexico where he debuted his new campaign slogan "Valor y pasion por Mexico" (Courage and passion for Mexico). While the PAN is the only one of the three major parties that did not form an alliance with one of the smaller parties, Calderon asked all Mexicans to join him in a "winning alliance" that will work to find a solution to Mexico's problems. Throughout the first week of his campaign, from meetings with business leaders to taxi drivers, Calderon's message focused on rule of law, values, and economic growth.
3. (C) On January 28 Calderon will launch a weekly one-hour radio program that will air at the same time as President Fox's radio show "Fox Contigo". Calderon hired the same producers who set up Fox's program in 2000. The producers, who no longer work on Fox's program, are PAN supporters and will be paid only production costs. On February 1 the same producers will launch an internet-radio program that will run live campaign events, campaign and party propaganda, and cultural information 24 hours a day. PAN officials told Poloff that they plan to use the internet to reach an important demographic - young, first-time voters who, due to their age, do not connect with Calderon's message that a vote for the PRI or the PRD is a vote for the old, corrupt ways of Mexico.
4. (C) In a series of polls taken between January 12 and January 16, and released on January 19, PRD candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) still leads the three major candidates but his numbers have decreased over the last few months. Calderon is still consistently climbing in the polls, but trails AMLO by anywhere from 6 to 12 points, depending on the poll. PAN officials point out that both AMLO and PRI candidate Roberto Madrazo are well-known political figures and that, given their public roles over the past three years, most Mexicans have already formed opinions about them. Since Calderon is a relative newcomer, the PAN believes as the percentage of Mexicans who know who he is grows, so will the percentage of Mexicans who support him in the polls. PAN officials also stressed that a large percentage of AMLO's support comes from swing voters, instead of from party loyalists, which means Calderon, with the right campaigning strategies, could steal their votes.
5. (C) While Calderon's campaign went through a reorganization period during the month-long "tregua" which ended on January 18, most notably adding former Secretary of Social Development Josefina Vasquez Mota as campaign policy coordinator, several positions within the campaign still remain unfilled. PAN members told Embassy officials weeks ago that Senator and PAN Secretary of International Relations Cecilia Romero will be named Calderon's Foreign Policy Advisor, but Calderon is stalling on making the appointment official. Senator Romero told Poloff on January 23 that Calderon is uncertain if he wants to name a party official to the position or someone linked more closely to the campaign.
6. (C) PAN officials state that the 9-person classified committee that was established to direct campaign strategy and provide better coordination between party officials and Calderon's campaign officials was dissolved. Campaign strategy is now decided by the PAN's strategic committee, which meets every Monday morning, and appears to be made up of some of the same players as the 9-person classified committee including PAN Secretary of Elections Arturo Garcia Portillo and Josefina Vasquez Mota. In an attempt to better coordinate efforts between Calderon's campaign and the party, the PAN gave two high-level party positions to Calderon advisors. Calderon supporter Cesar Nava was named Assistant Secretary General and spokesperson of the PAN, while Deputy
SIPDIS German Martinez Cazeres was named PAN representative to the
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Federal Electoral Institute (IFE).
7. (C) On January 25, WHA/MEX Deputy Director Richard Sanders asked PAN officials about the role of disaffected PRI-member and teacher's union leader Ester Elba Gordillo in Calderon's campaign. PAN Director of International Relations Rolando Garcia stated the Gordillo will not have a public role in the campaign, as PAN officials determined her image could do more harm than good. Garcia emphasized that Gordillo's support for Roberto Campa, Nueva Alianzas's presidential candidate, positively affects the PAN as she is helping to shift votes from the PRI, a major player in the election, to Nueva Alianza, a small party with no chance of winning the presidency.
8. (C) Comment: Despite a clear, consistent message at all of his campaign events thus far, Calderon's campaign got off to a rough start as he could not fill all the venues at which he spoke and he canceled two days of events when he lost his voice. It is also surprising that the month-long "tregua" was not enough time to appoint all of his advisors and organize his team, although it is possible the delays are due to infighting between party and campaign officials.
Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity