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ARGENTINA | 12-10-2019 08:47

‘Cinderella man’ Macri hardens rhetoric as he draws large crowds

President Mauricio Macri continued his frenzied “#SíSePuede” nationwide campaign swing of 30 cities in 30 days throughout last week, often in hostile territory (at least according to the results of August’s PASO primaries).

Macri is looking to muster enough popular support to put up a fight against presidential frontrunner Alberto Fernández, whose lead appears almost insurmountable. Regardless, the outpouring has been substantial for an embattled Macri, both in boosting morale amongst his troupe and demonstrating real numbers in the streets despite some of the worst approval ratings of his presidency.

Last Saturday saw Macri in Mendoza celebrating the Radical victory in the previous weekend’s provincial elections. Interestingly, Macri was purposely left out of the campaigning by the outgoing Alfredo Cornejo and his newly-minted successor for the governorship, Rodolfo Suárez. Cornejo has been a staunch critic of the President’s endogamous governing, expressing discontent over the Unión Cívica Radical (Radical Civic Union) being left out of the decision-making table. Macri arrived in Mendoza after the electoral bout was sealed, congratulating Cornejo — who is looking to position himself as a national leader of the postMacri opposition — and Suárez, where he also stepped up his recent shift to uncompromising pro-life positions in the abortion debate, telling the conservative province: “I’m clearly in favour of both lives.

Throughout the last few weeks, Macri has taken up stronger views, potentially looking to consolidate his core support base, using vice-presidential candidate Miguel Ángel Pichetto and Security Minister Patricia Bullrich to carry the rhetoric to the opposition.

Monday saw a surprisingly strong turnout in Tucumán last week but even more surprising was an uncharacteristic lurch into extreme informality when Macri stooped to kiss the foot of an elderly woman who had lost her shoe, calling her “My Cinderella,” as first lady Juliana Awada looked on. The incident stole the show from Macri’s heated words to rally his troops, ensuring the enthusiasm of the crowd. The numbers were surprising in a district governed by Juan Luis Manzur, one of Alberto’s closest allies, where the president lost by some 17 percentage points in the PASO primaries.

The next day saw him Neuquén, the province of the Vaca Muerta shale deposits offering the brightest hopes for Argentina’s future, where he once again relied on optimism for the future, while appealing to religion. Macri’s message there centred on those hopes, proclaiming: “This province will transform us into a world power,” with the shale resulting in a “trickle-down of hundreds of thousands of jobs.” Again he pledged himself “in favour of two lives,” adding, “with God, who gives us strength every day,” notably moved.

From Patagonia, Macri then raced to the far northeast with a rally in the Misiones provincial capital of Posadas on Wednesday. There Macri insisted on keeping a tight watch on the vote-counting on election day, asking the party faithful to ensure the presence of a scrutineer at each and every pollingprecinct, as well as “everybody” turning out to vote. The presidential presence told the province that “Misiones is not alone,” he said, also blasting drug-trafficking.

On Thursday Macri then moved northwest to Salta, encouraged by the defeat of Frente de Todos by a broad coalition including his own Cambiemos voters in the previous Sunday’s PASO provincial primaries – a result which dispelled memories of a frosty reception in the same city in mid-September, when he was enjoined by the local archbishop to “wear the face of poverty.”

Salta, one of the provinces that Macri has visited the most times throughout his presidency, received him with large crowds as well, where the president once again told supporters they can win the election: “not only do we believe we can turn this around, we are convinced we can turn the country around, into a nation of work, honesty, and love.”

Mindful that the middle-class vote had been decisive in the PASO victory of Salta City Mayor Gustavo Sáenz, Macri promised middle-class Argentines a new deal from now on, assuring his audience that he had heard and understood their message in his stunning primary defeat last August.

Yesterday Macri took a break from his #SiSePuede tour in order to focus on the upcoming presidential debate, as he prepared himself for the southern Buenos Aires Province cities of Azul and Olavarría today. His nationwide tour will have its grand finale next Saturday in central Buenos Aires. At the Obelisk, more precisely, where the President is hoping to congregate a massive crowd. The “Million Man March” will be Macri’s grand finale, where he hopes to send a message to Alberto, but also to those within his coalition, that he is not dead yet.

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