Why isn’t Ortega running on anti-Americanism?

Much has been made in recent months of how a fiery brand of anti-American populism is winning elections in Latin America. That tactic might work for Hugo Chávez, but it’s not the hand being played by Daniel Ortega, the former and (most likely) future president of Nicaragua. According to the LA Times‘s Hector Tobar, Ortega “almost never mentions the U.S. ...

606546_Ortega.thumbnail5.jpg
606546_Ortega.thumbnail5.jpg

Much has been made in recent months of how a fiery brand of anti-American populism is winning elections in Latin America. That tactic might work for Hugo Chávez, but it's not the hand being played by Daniel Ortega, the former and (most likely) future president of Nicaragua. According to the LA Times's Hector Tobar, Ortega "almost never mentions the U.S. or the Bush administration on the campaign trail."

The questions is why? Ortega is one candidate you'd expect to be doing otherwise. The U.S. had made no secret of the fact that it doesn't want Ortega to win. Here's one possibility: He doesn't have to. At least not yet. A recent Zogby poll shows the left-wing, former Sandanista leader ahead by 17 percent. I suspect that's mainly thanks to the failure of Nicaragua's last three leaders -- Chamorro, Aleman, and Bolanos -- to effect any meaningful economic change. I was in Nicaragua a couple years back, and the poverty and unemployment are staggering. Who needs anti-Americanism when you've got 17 percent unemployment?

Was Clinton right, is it the economy, stupid? Got a different opinion? E-mail us.

Much has been made in recent months of how a fiery brand of anti-American populism is winning elections in Latin America. That tactic might work for Hugo Chávez, but it’s not the hand being played by Daniel Ortega, the former and (most likely) future president of Nicaragua. According to the LA Times‘s Hector Tobar, Ortega “almost never mentions the U.S. or the Bush administration on the campaign trail.”

The questions is why? Ortega is one candidate you’d expect to be doing otherwise. The U.S. had made no secret of the fact that it doesn’t want Ortega to win. Here’s one possibility: He doesn’t have to. At least not yet. A recent Zogby poll shows the left-wing, former Sandanista leader ahead by 17 percent. I suspect that’s mainly thanks to the failure of Nicaragua’s last three leaders — Chamorro, Aleman, and Bolanos — to effect any meaningful economic change. I was in Nicaragua a couple years back, and the poverty and unemployment are staggering. Who needs anti-Americanism when you’ve got 17 percent unemployment?

Was Clinton right, is it the economy, stupid? Got a different opinion? E-mail us.

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