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Mexican presidential candidates square off in debate

Mexico will hold its presidential election on July 1st
Mexico will hold its presidential election on July 1st

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On July 1, Mexicans will head to the polls to choose a replacement for outgoing President Felipe Calderon, who was elected in 2006 to serve a single six-year term. The leading nominees faced-off in their final televised debate this past Sunday.

The presumed front-runner is Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico for 70 years ending in 2000. Pena Nieto is the polished, telegenic, married-to-a-soap-star candidate. Most polls show he’s the man to beat. But Pena Nieto’s campaign has lost a bit of ground recently as a result of student protests and several corruption scandals involving the once dominant PRI.

Gaining ground is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. The fiery leftist is running as an anti-corruption, man of the people candidate. His following is fiercely loyal, but Lopez Obrador lost to Felipe Calderon by 1 percentage point in 2006 and sometimes struggles to face down accusations that he’s hot-headed and defensive. Trailing in third place in most polls is Josefina Vazquez Mota of the conservative National Action Party (PAN). The Mexican businesswoman has been part of the administrations of Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon and is PAN’s first female candidate for President.

Here in the U.S., the Spanish language television network MundoFox has been following the race closely. They carried Sunday’s debate live, with analysis moderated by anchor Rolando Nichols. What should we know about Mexico’s candidates for President? How did they fare in the debate? What’s at stake for Mexico and California?


Rolando Nichols, Network News Anchor, Mundo/Fox