Taipei, Nov. 2 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and former premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) campaigned in Tainan on Saturday, making their first public appearance together since they competed to be the preferred candidate in the presidential primary held by their party, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), in June.
In the primary, Tsai beat Lai to win the DPP's nomination as she sought reelection in the presidential election scheduled for Jan. 11, 2020.
Lai accepted defeat gracefully but the two did not make clear whether they would like to run together on the same ticket, with Lai as Tsai's vice president running mate.
A lot of DPP supporters have urged Tsai to pick Lai as her running mate, which could boost the chances for the ruling party to retain power next year.
On Saturday, Tsai and Lai showed up together in Tainan to campaign for DPP lawmaker Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲), who set up a reelection campaign office in the southern Taiwanese city, which has been perceived as a solid support base for the ruling party. The legislative elections are also scheduled for Jan. 11, 2020.
Their joint appearance has raised hopes of a Tsai-Lai ticket, political observers said.
Asked by reporters Saturday whether they will form a joint ticket, the president repeated she would announce the best choice at an appropriate time, while Lai remained mum on the question.
Although Lai had not made any public appearance together with Tsai until Saturday, he traveled to the United States in mid-October to stump for the president by soliciting support from Taiwanese compatriots in the U.S.
During the first public appearance with Lai, Tsai expressed gratitude to the former premier for his efforts to campaign for her, referring to Lai's trip to the U.S. and his meetings with Taiwanese compatriots and now his campaigning for Lin.
In front of the DPP supporters, Tsai held hands with Lai and raised their hands, shouting loudly: "the DPP wins the elections," and urging her party to be united for a victory.
On the same day, Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), the presidential nominee of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), also visited Tainan to campaign for the party's Tainan legislator nominee Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), who opened her own campaign office in the city.
Lai said with Tsai and Han showing up in Tainan on the same day to hold their first massive election campaigns, the city meant a lot to Taiwan's democratic development. He called for voters in Tainan to continue to support the DPP to maintain the status of the city as a base for democracy.
Lai said Taiwan's voters should resist Taiwan becoming the second Hong Kong or Tibet under Chinese repression.
In addition to calling for support for Tsai's reelection, Lai asked voters in the country to let the DPP win the majority of seats in the upcoming legislative elections.
As for Tainan's legislative seats, Lai said voters in the city are urged to let all of the six DPP legislative nominees, including Lin, win.
After campaigning for Lin, Tsai will go to Yunlin and New Taipei City later in the day to rally voters to support the DPP in the legislative elections.
On Sunday, Tsai will visit Kaohsiung to campaign for the DPP legislative nominees.
Yen Juo-fang (顏若芳), a spokesperson for Tsai's campaign office, said the president will continue to detail the DPP's achievements in executing the country's development policies in the past three years in office to solicit more support.
Lai will visit Kaohsiung later Saturday and campaign for the DPP nominees in the city, and it is possible for the former premier and Tsai to show up together again in the southern city on Sunday.
On the KMT front, Han showed up at Hung's campaign event with former New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) and KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) to create an atmosphere that the party is united to win the upcoming presidential and legislative elections.
In July, Han beat Chu, tycoon Terry Gou (郭台銘), and other hopefuls in the KMT's presidential primary. Since then, Han has been faced with rising concerns about how to unite the party to win the 2020 vote.
Some KMT lawmakers have been urging Chu to work as the running mate of Han, while there has been speculation that Chu will serve as the head of Han's campaign office.
Han said he needs to have more discussions on who to pick as the director of his campaign office, while Chu said there are smooth communication channels for the party to discuss the matter, but declined to say whether he will serve as the director.
Wu said if it is necessary for the KMT to have Chu as the director of Han's campaign office and Chu has time to do it, he will talk with Chu to push for such cooperation.