During a Tuesday radio interview, Mexican presidential hopeful Josefina Vázquez Mota asserted control over her electoral campaign by announcing that she was overhauling her campaign. As the candidate faces difficult odds to become become Mexico's first-ever female president, the move signifies an attempt to recover some momentum after a series of embarrassments.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Vázquez Mota has publicly misspoken, faced heckling from voters and protesters, shown up late to important events, and even come close to fainting during a security forum.
She has been pejoratively called a Quinceañera Doll, an apparent reference to her youth and femininity.
Vázquez Mota, a former congress member and education secretary under outgoing president Felipe Calderón, has promised to reform state security practices by focusing on victims of crime and making life easier for working class families.
Like Calderón, Vázquez Mota represents the center-right National Action Party (PAN). Her challenge is to distance herself from the most visible failures of PAN leadership. The last 12 years under Calderón and former president Vicente Fox have seen a devastating increase in cartel-related crime and an outright failure to stomp out political corruption.
It may not help that Vázquez Mota's new election advisers have been identified as Calderón-affiliated party insiders, including the president's sister and a former campaign official. Still, this show of party unity is a positive development; Calderón did not support Vázquez Mota during primary contests earlier this year.
A Monday survey reports that she polls far behind frontrunner Enrique Peña Nieto, who represents the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), but is ahead of liberal candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
PRI, often considered a state party due to its 71 years of consecutive rule during the 20th century, lost the presidency to PAN candidate Vicente Fox in 2000. Now, the young and charismatic Peña Nieto is working to revitalize the party image. His promises are grand but vague; he has pledged to encourage governmental transparency and turn the rising tide of drug-related crime. One of his more specific ideas is to open the struggling state-owned oil company, Pemex, to private investment.
López Obrador, linked to the Party of the Democratic Revolution, is the most leftist candidate in the race despite recent attempts to present himself as more moderate. While serving as the government head of Mexico City from 2000 to 2005, he implemented progressive economic reforms, legalized abortion and allowed gay marriage. Today, he promises to focus on Mexico's working-class citizens. He ran for the presidency in 2006 and was only barely defeated by Calderón. López Obrador called election fraud, and popular protests in his defense clogged the streets of Mexico City.
As López Obrador struggles to prove his viability despite dwindling popularity and Peña Nieto works to rejuvenate a historically powerful party, Vázquez Mota aims to present herself as a valid alternative: Josefina Diferente, Presidenta de México 2012.
Now with party brass solidly behind her and a full third of the Mexican electorate still polling undecided, Vázquez Mota may yet chip away at Peña Nieto's strong lead. I am demanding that we leave the party's internal conflicts behind and once and for all work together toward victory, she said.