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Germany

Edmund Stoiber's Fighting Words

Chancellor candidate Edmund Stoiber kicked off his national campaign Thursday evening in Frankfurt, showing off the polish and rhetoric he will need if he plans to unseat Chancellor Gehard Schröder

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Ready for the big time

The Great Bavarian Hope waded through a pool of applause and cameramen and took his place along Christian Democratic Union chairwoman Angela Merkel Thursday evening for what was the kickoff to his national campaign to become Germany’s next Chancellor.

Christian Democratic Union officials said more than 3,500 tickets had been given out to party members to attend the event held, not in Berlin, but in Frankfurt’s massive conference complex.

In his campaign fight speech, Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber showed none of the hesitancy and intimidation that millions of Germans saw a week ago as he stumbled through a nationally televised interview.

He attacked Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s "quiet hand" approach to the economy, the state of Germany’s school system and praised the accomplishments of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and his Christian Social Union (CSU).

"We want to overtake responsibility for the future of Germany and we want to bring Germany to the fore," Stoiber said to applause.

The CDU’s helping hand

Stoiber employed "we" often throughout his speech, a direct reference to the cooperation between the CDU and CSU many obervers believe will be the key to Stoiber's shot at a Germany's top job.

Many questioned the decision to let a CSU candidate represent the party on the national level. The CSU has reigned in Bavaria for more than 20 years, but has played a secondary role to the CDU on the national level.

Observers say a tight cooperation and unified platform are needed to win over potential voters on the national level.

"There is no patent recipe, coordinating a campaign for a CSU Chancellor candidate is something we have no experience in," said Roland Koch, the Christian Democratic Premier of Hessen, in an interview with the newsmagazine Der Spiegel.

Koch went on to say that there could be no infighting in a campaign so under the national media’s magnifying glass.

Sweating in the spotlight

The intensity of the spotlight is something Stoiber is just getting used to. In Bavaria, there are maybe 85 correspondents observing him. This year, an estimated 4,000 journalists will be covering his election campaign and reporting on his every move.

He got off to a bad start, stumbling his way through his first nationally televised interview since announcing his candidacy, and watching in agony as newspapers and late-night talk shows used the material as comic fodder.

Since then, Stoiber followed in the footsteps of Helmut Kohl, Germany’s CDU chancellor from 1982 to 1998, and hired a media advisor. Stoiber’s second appearance a week later went much better and the candidate some describe as wooden was positively combative on Thursday.

Starting off slowly, Stoiber received more and more applause as he worked to a crescendo. His words and staccato sentences fell hard on the appreciative ears of his audience.

Whether they do the same on Germany’s voters remains to be seen.

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