Mexico’s President ‘offended’ by favored candidate’s debate performance

There were several valid criticisms of Mexico’s first presidential debate ahead of the June 2nd election. The format was somewhat restrictive, and the candidates’ timer wasn’t working at some points, leaving it unclear how much longer they could speak. But President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on Tuesday he had an unusual reason for disliking Sunday’s debate: it wasn’t about him. Focused on his legacy, López Obrador has long compared his administration to the most heroic chapters of Mexican history. So he was angry the debate moderators posed questions about corruption or problems with the education and healthcare systems. Those are issues he says he has resolved. “The whole narrative of the debate, if you analyze it, revolved around what our opponents say,” López Obrador said at his daily press briefing. “The whole narrative of the debate was to not recognize anything” done under his administration, “as if we had not focused on completely resolving .” López Obrador has acknowledged that corruption cases continued to occur after he took office in December 2018. The debate questions weren’t written by the moderators. They were chosen from among those submitted by citizens, and each candidate could chose among groups of questions. The Constitution limits presidents to one six-year term, so López Obrador cannot run again. Newspaper columnist Salvador García Soto cited anonymous administration sources as saying López Obrador also was angry with his party’s candidate because she did not defend him enough. Former Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum is running on the ticket of the president’s Morena party. Sheinbaum is seen as López Obrador’s most loyal disciple and leads the polls in the presidential race. But when asked how she would handle corruption, she apparently angered the president by referring to her own anti-graft programs in Mexico City, not López Obrador’s efforts. “The president felt offended because Claudia wasn’t vehement enough in defending the federal government,” García Soto wrote. López Obrador calls his administration “the Fourth Transformation,” claiming it is the successor to the three most heroic chapters of Mexican history: the 1810-1821 fight for independence from Spain, the liberal reforms that broke the church’s dominance in the 1850s and the 1910-1917 Mexican Revolution.