Mexican candidate defends his lack of knowledge about books


Mexico City : Enrique Pena Nieto, who polls show is the favorite to win Mexico’s July 2012 presidential election, is defending himself after becoming the butt of jokes for being unable to identify the authors and titles of several books.

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During a visit to the Guadalajara International Book Fair over the weekend, Pena Nieto, the only candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, got confused about certain authors and was unable to recall the titles of books he had listed as his favorites.

The politician said Enrique Krauze wrote “La silla del aguila”, a work by Carlos Fuentes.

“There is another book by him (Krauze) about strongmen. I don’t remember the exact title, it was a book I liked,” Pena Nieto said.

“I have a hard time recalling the titles of books,” the politician said.

Pena Nieto’s mistakes unleashed a wave of jokes on the web and social-networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, where #LibreriaPenaNieto is one of the most followed feeds.

“I am reading the tweets about my mistake yesterday, some very critical, others funny even. I appreciate them all. Let’s keep working for Mexico,” Pena Nieto said in a Twitter posting Monday.

Anyone could have made the same mistake, Pena Nieto said during an interview with Radio Formula.

Some politicians used his gaffe as an opportunity to criticize the former governor on Twitter.

Pena Nieto “believes the author of the Bible is John Paul II”, Sen. Carlos Navarrete, of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, said in a Twitter posting.

“If ignorance hurt, Enrique Pena Nieto would be screaming,” Labor Secretary Javier Lozano said.

“Enrique: the issue that concerns us is concrete. Your brutal ignorance offends and is a threat. I applaud you for giving yourself away so soon,” Lozano said in his posting.

The matter picked up steam when Pena Nieto’s eldest daughter, Paulina Pena, re-sent a Twitter message from her boyfriend that labeled her father’s critics “a bunch of wimps” and “part of the underclass” that only criticizes “those they envy”.

Pena Nieto apologized for his daughter’s statements, saying on Twitter that hers “was an emotional reaction” over his gaffe at the book fair and was “an excessive” action.

Ernesto Cordero, who is vying for the nomination of the ruling National Action Party, or PAN, also criticized Pena Nieto, but then he got confused while responding in an interview to a question about Colombian writer Laura Restrepo, referring to her as Isabel.

The 45-year-old Pena Nieto, a former governor of Mexico state, has said he wants to promote ideas and compromise to win the backing of Mexicans.

The PRI, which governed Mexico from 1929 to 2000, is trying to regain the presidency after two straight losses.