Mexican Leftist Politician Rising In Polls With Anti-American Rhetoric Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is running for a third time for president of Mexico. But this time the leftist populist is ahead in polls, thanks to a rise in anti-American, anti-Trump sentiment.
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Mexican Leftist Politician Rising In Polls With Anti-American Rhetoric

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Mexican Leftist Politician Rising In Polls With Anti-American Rhetoric

Mexican Leftist Politician Rising In Polls With Anti-American Rhetoric

Mexican Leftist Politician Rising In Polls With Anti-American Rhetoric

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/519879405/519879406" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is running for a third time for president of Mexico. But this time the leftist populist is ahead in polls, thanks to a rise in anti-American, anti-Trump sentiment.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

President Trump's tough talk about Mexico is not helping Mexico's president. It's giving a boost to one of his opponents though, a left-wing populist candidate, as Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is no newcomer to Mexico's rough-and-tumble politics. He's very well versed in appealing to Mexico's poor and working class.

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ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: At a recent rally in one of Mexico City's poorer suburbs, Lopez Obrador told supporters that he will end long-standing corruption in the country, return stolen riches to the poor and bring about change and make Mexico better than ever. Lopez Obrador's presidential stump speech echoes much of those of Mexico's newest nemesis to the north. He promises to bring back jobs and stand up to foreign investors. But Lopez Obrador gets the biggest applause when he goes after President Trump directly.

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LOPEZ OBRADOR: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "This Donald Trump is erratic and arrogant," says Lopez Obrador, "and we won't allow his wall or mistreatment of our fellow migrants in the U.S." His willingness to publicly berate Trump has boosted his standing in the polls. He now leads among probable presidential candidates, including those of the current ruling party, whose chances have been hurt greatly by President Enrique Pena Nieto's weak response to Trump. It's still more than a year away before Mexicans go to the polls, and Lopez Obrador hasn't officially declared his candidacy, but there is no doubt he's running. He's consistently on the campaign trail holding rallies nearly every day, including several stops this week in the U.S.

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UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: His leftist Morena party runs nonstop radio and TV ads showing off a remade Lopez Obrador with a softer, more positive tone than past campaigns where his critics labeled him too bombastic and egotistical. Political science professor at the Colegio de Mexico, Sergio Aguayo, says Trump and Lopez Obrador have similar populist appeal.

SERGIO AGUAYO: Both are rebels but of different sort. And it will be fascinating to watch the interaction among both of them.

KAHN: Throughout his decades in politics, Lopez Obrador has long cast himself as a political outsider and staunch nationalist. But unlike Trump, Lopez Obrador lives a modest and austere life. As a popular mayor of Mexico City from 2000 to 2005, he famously rode around in a Nissan sedan and handed out cash to the poor and seniors. In 2006, he lost his first presidential bid by less than 1 percent, blaming massive fraud for his defeat.

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UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting in Spanish).

KAHN: Tens of thousands of supporters demanded a recount of each ballot box and vote, like this crowd chanted, while blocking Mexico City's main streets for weeks, bringing the heart of the capital to a standstill until Lopez Obrador finally conceded. Six years later, after another loss, this time by a larger margin, he once again cried foul and brought supporters out into the streets. But these days, his crowds are much smaller. Housewife Antonia Ledzma isn't deterred.

ANTONIA LEDZMA: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: In an echo of many U.S. voters last year, Ledzma says Mexico is ready for a change. She says we have to have it and cannot wait any longer. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City.

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