Date registered: Sep 2004
Vehicle: 95 E300
Location: Inside my head
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Vote for the ex-first lady
Argentine first lady to run for president
Sun Jul 1, 2007 9:27PM EDT
By Lucas Bergman and Kevin Gray
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - The wife of President Nestor Kirchner will run as the government candidate in Argentina's October presidential election after he decided not to seek re-election, a government spokesman said on Sunday.
The decision ends months of speculation fueled by Kirchner's public suggestions that either he or his wife, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, a prominent senator, would compete in the October 28 vote. Polls show either would easily win.
"Cristina will be the government candidate," the spokesman told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity and confirming a report first published by the daily newspaper Clarin.
She will launch her campaign on July 19, the spokesman said. The government news agency Telam later confirmed Mrs. Kirchner's candidacy, citing Cabinet Chief Alberto Fernandez.
Kirchner's decision against running for re-election marks a highly unusual move by a popular leader who Argentines credit with engineering the country's recovery from a 2001-2002 economic crisis.
The center-left leader has not said publicly why he would want to relinquish office, but analysts have cited reasons ranging from exhaustion to health problems to a plan to compete again in 2011.
Some analysts say the move could be aimed at reinvigorating his government to ensure he remains in control of the ruling Peronist party.
Although his approval ratings hover around 50 percent, Kirchner has recently come under pressure with his government beset by an energy crisis, a public works corruption scandal and accusations it is manipulating the official inflation rate.
Some political commentators say Kirchner and his wife are looking to rotate in and out of power. Argentine presidents are limited to two consecutive four-year terms but can return to office after spending four years on the sidelines.
TRAVELS SET THE STAGE
A Cristina Kirchner candidacy had been seen as increasingly likely in recent months as she has traveled abroad on official visits to raise her profile at home and her chances of becoming the country's first elected female leader.
Mrs. Kirchner, a 54-year-old lawyer and outspoken senator, is one of the president's leading advisers and has served in both houses of congress.
She was better known than her husband when he ran for president in 2003 as a governor from the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz.
The couple have drawn comparisons to U.S. President Bill Clinton and his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, a contender in the 2008 U.S. presidential election.
Four opinion polls published by Clarin on Sunday showed Kirchner's wife likely to win in a first round of balloting, with around 46 percent support and a more than 30 percentage point lead over two other leading presidential contenders.
Also in the race are Elisa Carrio, a center-left former congresswoman; Roberto Lavagna, Kirchner's former economy minister; Ricardo Lopez Murphy, an economist; and former President Carlos Menem.
Kirchner repeatedly hinted during public appearances in recent months the government candidate would either be a "pinguino" or "pinguina," Spanish for a male or female penguin -- a playful reference on the frigid Patagonian region where he and his wife began their political careers.
If she captures the presidency, Cristina Kirchner would become the first woman elected president but not the first to run the country.
Isabel Peron, the widow of strongman Juan Domingo Peron, took over as president after he died in 1974. She was ousted in a military coup two years later.
The biggest problems we are facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all and that’s what I intend to reverse.
~ Senator Barack H. Obama