Cambiemos candidate Mauricio Macri and A New Alternative (UNA) candidate Sergio Massa have made claims that Daniel Scioli declined his invitation to the first ever Argentine presidential debate because Cristina Fernández de Kirchner told him to.
As we all know, Wednesday saw Scioli’s official decision not to attend the debate and Thursday saw Macri’s attempts to coax him up to the lectern in time for October 4th.
But today criticisms have reached a whole new level as Macri, Massa and Progresista Margarita Stolbizer have put forward the notion that this controversial political move is the work of none other than Cristina.
“Mrs. President,” said Macri in a campaign bid in San Fernando yesterday afternoon, “I ask that you please let the candidate Daniel Scioli debate. We want to debate democratically.”
And he’s not alone. Massa has been extremely vocal in his Kirchnerite criticisms. He claims to have heard first-hand Scioli admit that he is only a puppet in Cristina’s show.
“Cristina Kirchner ordered her candidates not to debate,”
stated Massa unequivocally on live TV last night.
“I heard Scioli saying that Cristina is the boss,” he went on, “yesterday Scioli and [Economy Minister Axel] Kicillof backed out at the same time; if that isn’t an order, it certainly looks like one.”
Stolbizer was a little less forthright in her accusations, but a hint of this same suspicion emerged from her controlled yet pointed words:
“Daniel Scioli won’t debate because he’s… a coward or because he wants to snub the institutions. Or because Cristina Kirchner won’t let him?”
Questions, rumors, accusations, speculations, gossip, tweets — no matter how you put it, the sentiment is still there and Scioli and his team are not happy about it.
Cabinet Chief Aníbal Fernández has been the most vociferous in defending Cristina’s protégé.
He insisted it was “idiotic” to claim that a president with as much international prestige as Cristina would not allow one of her candidates to participate in a debate.
“They are trying to minimize or degenerate” the relationship Scioli currently has with the people, he said, trying to make him out to be some monster who wishes to ruin democracy and play this political game without a rule book, he went on.
And Scioli isn’t laying low anymore — here’s what he had to say for himself:
“I am 58 years old, I couldn’t have any more grey hairs on my head if I tried, and you think that the President is going to tell me what to do in the campaign?” He asked.
He pointed out that he has a perfectly good advisor whom he does not hesitate to consult when difficult decisions arise, so he doesn’t understand why his opponents are trying to sketch Cristina out as a preoccupied mom who comes down to breakfast in the morning and says,
“Wash your teeth, make sure you change your underwear, have you got a handkerchief in your bag, have you got enough cash? Ok, off you go, go and debate with Macri.”
He says it is “very silly” and entirely false.