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September 19, 2017

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Candidates converge on Tainan

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- All three of Taiwan's presidential candidates stumped in the southern municipality of Greater Tainan on the last Sunday before the Jan. 16 general elections.

With less than a week to go, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), People First Party (PFP) presidential candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) and Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate Eric Chu (朱立倫) were on the campaign trail in full force.

In Greater Tainan, the local government established a dedicated task group to coordinate the three candidates' routes in order to prevent a head-to-head encounter.

"The (Greater Tainan) mayor has a difficult task today. Today many people are in Tainan," Tsai remarked, referring to her political opponents' presence.

On Sunday, Tsai hopped on a motorcade to sweep the streets of Tainan with five DPP legislative candidates, who are expected to win easily in their districts.

In the morning, Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) joined Tsai at a press conference at the Anping Matsu temple, where she lit incense and filled out a prayer card for "a new government, a new Legislature, a new economy and new politics" for Taiwan.

At the press conference, Tsai renewed her call for voters to oppose vote buying and again encouraged Taiwanese youth to return to their home districts to cast their ballots.

She also called on pan-green voters to eschew small parties and to focus their party vote on the DPP.

Tsai said her appearance in Tainan was pre-planned and that her campaign team's strategy was to sweep from south to north through as many townships as possible in the final week before Election Day.

After stumping in Tainan, Tsai crossed the border into Chiayi to stump for the county's DPP legislative candidates and to appear at a rally, before doubling back to Tainan in the evening.

Soong of the PFP had campaigned on Saturday wearing a bulletproof vest, and reporters in Tainan asked Tsai if she was wearing one as well.

"I cannot tell you," Tsai replied. "But I do wear what I am supposed to wear."

Chu, on bulletproof vests, said Taiwan was a friendly place and that there "should be no need to wear one."

Soong spent the morning in Greater Taichung before heading to Tainan's Chenghuang Temple (城隍廟) to rally supporters.

Meanwhile, Chu canvassed for votes nearby before leaving in the evening for a rally in Taoyuan.

In Tainan, historically one of the KMT's worst municipalities, Chu met a surprisingly warm welcome by locals waving flags and shouting encouragement.

Chu said that the KMT had nominated promising young contenders for Tainan districts' legislative seats and that the party was prepared to give a "full effort" in the region.

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