Ex-Argentine leader's campaign in turmoil
By KEVIN GRAY
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Former President Carlos Menem canceled
several appearances Tuesday as his campaign for a third term in office
signs of turmoil.
The cancellations came amid media reports that some of Menem's
top aides want him to quit the race and avoid a possibly embarrassing defeat
Nestor Kirchner, who overwhelmingly leads the polls ahead of Sunday's vote.
Reports of infighting among Menem's top campaign advisers also
have cast a shadow for days over his bid to return to office, yet the 72-year-old
president has emphatically refused to back out of the race.
Still, he scrapped plans Tuesday for a speech to Argentina's leading newspaper editors and for a rally later in the day.
A campaign aide, who spoke with The Associated Press on condition
of anonymity, also said Menem also canceled a last-minute television and
The aide gave no reason for the abrupt change in campaign strategy.
Menem, who spent most of the day in closed-door meetings with top advisers
Buenos Aires headquarters, did not comment publicly.
Menem, who governed Argentina from 1989 until 1999, has languished in the polls despite finishing first last month in a sharply divided first round.
In the April 27 balloting, Menem won 24 percent compared to 22 percent for Kirchner, governor of the oil-rich province of Santa Cruz in southern Argentina.
His campaign since has failed to generate widespread support,
hampered in large part by widespread rejection of the former president
by many Argentines
weary of the corruption scandals that clouded his decade in power.
A three-term governor, Kirchner has surged in the polls by harnessing
heavy support from outgoing President Eduardo Duhalde, who took office
January after deadly street protests unseated five president in two weeks.