Trump Was The Fifth Contender In Mexico’s Presidential Debate

By Jorge Valencia
Published: Monday, May 21, 2018 - 8:00am

Instituto Nacional Electoral
Independent candidate Jaime Rodriguez Calderon, Ricardo Anaya of the National Action Party, Jose Antonio Meade of the Institutional Revolutionary Party and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Morena party before a televised debate from Tijuana.

Mexico’s four presidential candidates threw barbs at each other, gave few detailed proposals for governance and frequently harped on how they would confront President Donald Trump in a debate televised nationally on Sunday night.

The candidates, gathered in the border city of Tijuana, debated issues of international trade, immigration and border security. And while they shared a willingness to attack one another, perhaps the only point they entirely agreed upon was their interest in standing up to a public figure that wasn’t present in the room: President Donald Trump.

The four candidates competed over who would be more firm with Trump, who has repeatedly made statements about Mexicans and Mexican-Americans that inspired widespread animosity south of the border. Trump has given prominence to immigration in his political agenda, and by consequence, in Mexico’s presidential elections this year.

Jaime Rodriguez, the governor of the northern state of Nuevo Leon and an independent candidate, suggested he would expropriate Banamex, a unit of Citibank, if Trump kept attacking the nation and its economy.

“We have to be clear with President Trump,” Rodriguez said.

José Antonio Meade, a former foreign minister and nominee for the incumbent Institutional Revolutionary Party, referenced comments Trump made Thursday in California comparing immigrants to animals.

“In my government, we will not allow any agreement on any subject if it isn’t based on respect,” Meade said.

Ricardo Anaya, a candidate representing a left-right coalition between the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) and the National Action Party (PAN), quoted a book written by Trump, paraphrasing it as saying Trump’s philosophy is to provoke his enemies, then squash the weak ones and negotiate with strong ones.

“He’s trying to step on us,” Anaya said. “You want someone to respect you? Start by respecting yourself.”

And Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a presidential candidate for the third time and running under the left-of-center Morena party, saying he would give his administration the moral standing to stand up to Trump by eradicating government corruption in Mexico. “Trump will have to learn how to respect us,” Lopez Obrador said.

Lopez Obrador, 64, is leading in some polls by almost 20 percentage points, ahead of Anaya, 39, the second place challenger. The election will be July 1.

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