MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Faced with tough questions last week from six journalists on live television, Mexican presidential front-runner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador leaned back in his chair with a twinkle in his eye, laughing off criticism, at times making fun of himself.
On the street the next day, the leftist’s tone changed when he castigated Mexico’s business elite, accusing them of corruption in the $13 billion construction of a new Mexico City airport he threatens to scrap if elected.
Peremptory - Dismissal - Bosses - Image - Lopez
The peremptory dismissal of the bosses jarred with the more moderate image Lopez Obrador has cultivated to build a strong lead ahead of the July 1 vote.
The outburst deflected attention from his opponents’ woes and undermined the vision of a smiling, avuncular patriot he has sought to project. Adversaries jumped on the opportunity to paint an old portrait of him as a short-tempered radical and divisive nationalist who cannot be trusted with the economy.
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A Lopez Obrador victory could usher in a Mexican government less accommodating toward the United States, where president Donald Trump has stoked trade tensions with Mexico and aggressively moved to curb immigration.
Lopez Obrador has backed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but his plan to review newly issued oil contracts sparked worries he will deter foreign investment.
Critics - Supporters - Principles - Dozen - Years
Critics and supporters alike say the 64-year-old has stuck to his principles in the dozen years he has spent pursuing the presidency. Meanwhile, his main rivals have entered government and exhausted their political capital. Voters are angry about corruption, gang violence and chronic inequality.
The presidential campaign formally gets underway on Friday. As he runs for a third time, the odds have never looked so favorable for Lopez Obrador, who cheerily brushes off warnings that his criticism of business will alarm investors.
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“They want to frighten you,” he said in a video post last...
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