Mexico's Next President Gets 'Respectful' Call From Trump After Huge Win Leftist populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador swept Mexico's presidential election. That could mean a big shift in its economic policies and dealings with the U.S.
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Mexico's Next President Gets 'Respectful' Call From Trump After Huge Win

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Mexico's Next President Gets 'Respectful' Call From Trump After Huge Win

Mexico's Next President Gets 'Respectful' Call From Trump After Huge Win

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

All right. Well, in addition to interviewing possibilities for the Supreme Court today, President Trump also says he spoke for about 30 minutes today with Mexico's president-elect, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We talked about border security. We talked about trade. We talked about NAFTA. We talked about a separate deal, just Mexico with the United States. We had a lot of good conversation.

KELLY: Trump says he thinks the relationship will be a very good one. Lopez Obrador is a leftist populist. He has pledged to stamp out corruption and violence, both of which are rampant in Mexico. His victory yesterday was overwhelming. He got more than half the votes cast in the election. Here's NPR's Carrie Kahn.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador won big. Not only did his new party, which is only four years old, take the presidency, it grabbed five governor's races and will be the biggest voting bloc in Congress. Since Mexico began its democratic opening in the late 1990s, no Mexican president has had such an overwhelming electoral mandate. Carlos Bravo Regidor, a professor at CIDE, a public research center in Mexico City, says the voters definitely expressed their anger with the political establishment, but they did not abandon democracy.

CARLOS BRAVO REGIDOR: Let's elect the principal opposition leader. And, you know, let's give him enough power to gather enough political capital to really push through, you know, a new agenda.

KAHN: Voter Mario Ruiz Bacera says that's why he went for every candidate running under Lopez Obrador's MORENA party too.

MARIO RUIZ BACERA: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "You have to give them the whole car, or they'll just put the brakes on his agenda," says Ruiz. Just how far the president-elect will change Mexico's current establishment is unclear. His critics have long warned he's a leftist firebrand akin to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez who will dangerously pull Latin America's second-largest economy toward socialism. Last night, in hopes of calming international investors and markets, Lopez Obrador said he wasn't interested in expropriations or state control of the country's banks.

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ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "The new government will maintain fiscal and monetary discipline," he told supporters packed into a downtown hotel ballroom. Minutes later, the president-elect also said he will be doubling pensions for the elderly, giving education scholarships to the young and aiding the disabled.

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LOPEZ OBRADOR: (Speaking Spanish).

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KAHN: "We will provide good to all. But," says Lopez Obrador, "the poor come first." It's clear the incoming president has a lot of different sectors of society to satisfy. To get elected this time, his third run for the presidency, Lopez Obrador united a disparate group of political interests, everything from veteran leftists to entrenched labor unionists to conservative evangelicals. He will also have to balance Mexico's precarious relations with the U.S. and President Trump - a tough task, says Carlos Bravo Regidor of the CIDE think tank, given that the president-elect at heart is an economic nationalist.

REGIDOR: Although that doesn't mean that he's against NAFTA or that he is anti-globalization or anti-American. It just means that he's aware of the fact that, you know, NAFTA has not been all roses and rainbows for Mexico.

KAHN: Lopez Obrador insists he will be a tough negotiator with Trump and will get the respect from the U.S. president his predecessor couldn't. Eric Olson of the Wilson Institute in Washington, D.C., says Lopez Obrador is in a tricky spot when it comes to balancing relations with the U.S. and appeasing critics at home.

ERIC OLSON: He has to walk the fine line between those who want more assertive approach to Donald Trump and the pragmatic need to continue the cooperation.

KAHN: Olson says, if the incoming president is to complete his primary campaign pledge to crack down on corruption, he'll need U.S. intelligence and cooperation to make that a reality. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City.

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