Mexico's ruling party presidential candidate slips, says outgoing leader led by 'personal ambition'

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s ruling party presidential candidate slipped up during a campaign speech Friday and said President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was motivated by “personal ambition,” but later acknowledged the phrase “could be misinterpreted.” In Mexico it is used to describe a desire for personal economic gain.

Former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum holds a comfortable polling lead ahead of the June 2 elections and has sought to link her candidacy to López Obrador, who founded their Morena party. He is by far the more popular of the two politicians, and Sheinbaum has pledged to follow his policies.

So it was all the more surprising when she said Friday that “we are not going to reach the presidency like Andrés Manuel López Obrador did, out of personal ambition.”

She later corrected herself, posting a statement on her social media accounts saying: “Upon finishing my speech in Baja California Sur, a colleague told me there was a phrase that could be misinterpreted ... It's obvious President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has transformed our country without personal ambitions.”

López Obrador, while in many ways autocratic, prides himself on his austere lifestyle and often describes rivals scornfully as “vulgar people with ambitions.”

Sheinbaum's closest rival, opposition coalition candidate Xóchitl Gálvez, interpreted the former Mexico City mayor's remarks as a Freudian slip.

“The candidate of lies was finally betrayed by her subconscious, and finally admitted that they only act out of personal ambition,” Gálvez wrote.

Gálvez has herself misspoke at times, including in April when she suggested that anyone who didn't own a house by the age of 60 was bad at managing money. Gálvez later said the comment was directed only at Sheinbaum, who prides herself on living in a rental apartment and had criticized the opposition candidate for owning a home.

Jorge Alvarez Máynez, who is running a distant third in the race, also apologized for posting a video in which he appeared to have been drinking and criticizing electoral authorities.