Argentina's presidential front-runner focuses on economy

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Argentina Elections

Argentina's presidential front-runner Alberto Fernandez listens to a student at the end of an oral exam in his classroom at the University of Buenos Aires School of Law, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. The presidential ticket headed by Fernandez and his vice presidential running mate, former President Cristina Fernández, no relation, emerged as the strongest vote-getter in Argentina’s primary elections in August, indicating conservative President Mauricio Macri will face an uphill battle going into the Oct. 27 general elections. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — The front-runner in Argentina's presidential race said Wednesday that his main concern is the country's economic woes, which he blamed on his main opponent, conservative President Mauricio Macri.

Alberto Fernández also dismissed the worries of some Argentines that he would be unduly influenced by his running mate and former boss, ex-President Cristina Fernández, whose left-of-center administration's economic interventionist approach was criticized by some business sectors.

Alberto Fernández is not related to his running mate but was her chief of staff early in her first presidential term.

"We worked a long time ago. I don't see a conflict there," he said. "Argentina's problem is not Cristina. It is what Macri has left behind."

Macri, who succeeded Cristina Fernández, promised in 2015 early in his term to eradicate poverty and said his management should be evaluated on that standard. But Argentina has continued to be wracked by inflation running at an annual rate of 50% and a steep fall in the value of its peso. About 10 million Argentines, 35.4% of the population, are poor.

Anger over the economy has hurt Macri's re-election campaign for the Oct. 27 presidential vote. The Fernández slate has been considered the leader since receiving far more votes than Macri's in primary voting Aug. 11.

Alberto Fernández, a lawyer, spoke briefly with The Associated Press after delivering examinations to several students in a class he teaches on crime and punishment at the Faculty of Law of the University of Buenos Aires.

"Poverty has become a big problem," he said, saying he would seek to rebuild the economy by pursuing "a policy of agreements" among different economic and social sectors.