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| 5/26/2010 12:00:00 AM

Has Colombia found its Obama?

May 26--An unconventional politician is trying to become Colombia's next president by mimicking Obama's tactics.

He got married on an elephant. He dispatched mimes into the streets to shame drivers into respecting pedestrians. He took a televised shower to demonstrate how citizens could conserve water.

There is no telling what Antanas Mockus might do should he become Colombia’s next president — a once far-fetched prospect that is becoming ever more likely as “Mockusmania” sweeps the country. The Green Party candidate is now polling neck-and-neck with former Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, according to a Datexco poll last week.

Behind Mockus’ rapid rise in the polls is a campaign strategy that capitalizes on Colombia's unusual political juncture. He has turned his atypical characteristics into an advantage — and he’s done so by employing many of the same messages and tactics that Barack Obama used.

“Mockus represents much of what Obama did to American voters: someone who was going to change politics as usual,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington, D.C.
 
Read more here.
 
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