Last night, I went to see Su Tseng-chang in Wanhua, right next to the Longshan Temple. There was not too much available space, but it was all completely packed. It is hard to estimate crowds in irregular spaces; my best guess is 3000, give or take 500. The crowd was pretty enthusiastic, which was not terribly surprising. There wasn’t a lot of speaking; most of the evening was filled by musical performances. Su Tseng-chang was the only person to give a full-fledged speech. He didn’t say much new, so I won’t bother to report on it.
Tonight I went to Yonghe to see Eric Chu. Well, technically I think we were in Zhonghe. The event was in the 823 Park, which is right on the border between the two cities. The site was extremely small, but it was filled to capacity. Since President Ma was coming, they established a security perimeter. I think there were probably 1000 people inside the perimeter and 500 outside. Again, I couldn’t see the whole crowd from one single angle, so this estimate is not very precise.
The crowd was equal to DPP crowds in its level of enthusiasm. This is the first time I have seen that from a KMT crowd this year. Also, I really like events held in Yonghe for one simple reason: everything is in Mandarin!
The speakers were really slamming Tsai for her divided attention. As one speaker put it, she wants to be mayor, party chair, and run for president. Chu spent several minutes stressing how important the first mayor of Xinbei will be in establishing all the precedents. He concluded: a mayor has to focus all his attention on these problems, and he can’t afford to divide his attention. It’s a good point; I think Chu could have made it much more forcefully. At any rate, Wu Nai-ren 吳乃仁 didn’t do Su or Tsai any favors by suggesting that they could still run for president.
Ma Ying-jeou was the most interesting speaker tonight. He spent about 80% of his speech talking about national issues. First, he talked about the KMT’s record on economics. He gave the economic growth stats again (GDP growth of 9.98%, unemployment rate of 4.92%), but he also talked about the KMT’s record in managing the economic crisis. He was particularly proud of the fact that not one bank failed. Next, he spoke about diplomacy, concentrating on the EU’s recent decision to allow Taiwanese enter without a visa. Taiwanese can now visit 96 countries visa-free, and this is a big improvement over the Chen era. Finally, he spoke about his record in national security. Ma said that there are two powderkegs in East Asia: the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Strait. The Korean Peninsula is as volatile as ever, as we have seen in the past few days. However, Ma stressed that he has successfully lowered tensions across the Taiwan Strait so that a similar event is highly unlikely here. (There were other points, but those are the three that I remember most clearly.) He ended this by asking the crowd which political party had performed better. “I can’t hear you. Louder!!”
He eventually said a few things about Chu, but he never talked about local issues for Taipei County. I was a bit surprised by this focus on national and party issues. I’ve heard Ma speak several times this year, and he has never been so focused on national issues. I’m really not sure why he shifted gears tonight or whether that will help or hurt Chu. But it clearly is a different message.
The event ended at 8:20. They had another event, but that is still quite early to end.
When a campaign thinks they are going to win, they give off a different vibe than when they think they are going to lose and are just putting on a brave act. Right now, it looks to me like the Su, Tsai, and Chu camps all think they are going to win. The Hau camp isn’t so sure, though I don’t think he thinks he is clearly going to lose. But he doesn’t exude the confidence that the other three do right now. (Don’t ask me to justify this feeling; it’s just a feeling I have.)