Two minutes before the start of the presidential debate, the first of the two required by law, entered the room of the Forum Wado de Pedro. And behind, Karina Milei. Immediately, the organization asked for silence, the air conditioning lost power and the place was dyed blue light.
He opened the television broadcast before an auditorium with 400 people (it was full, and people standing), who had to maintain strict silence, not use cell phones and not even go out to go to the bathroom. Immediately, Javier Milei, Juan Schiaretti, Patricia Bullrich, Sergio Massa and Myriam Bregman entered. This is how they arranged themselves in front of their lecterns (the man from Córdoba was the only one who had a stool from the beginning).
For a continuous hour the candidates remained live, in front of the camera, trying to capture the attention of the viewers. While among the audience present, the tension grew and deflated depending on who was speaking.
The first intervention that aroused murmuring was that of Bregman, when he called Milei a “cuddly kitten of economic power.” Quickly, journalists in the dark tweeted the expression that went viral in a few minutes.
Live, Bullrich seemed tired. Her body posture, with both arms on the lectern, and her central position did not play a trick on her. Furthermore, in the economy block, she once again showed the great deficit that her campaign advisors recognize about her: she does not achieve solidity.
While waiting his turn, Schiaretti drank Coca Coca. He had the glass under the lectern. At the beginning the governor lacked energy, but then he adjusted the tone of his voice, appealed to the speech of the “Córdoba model” and stayed there, something that gave him good returns.
Milei didn’t stop making faces. She made them towards her people, but knowing that the TV would take the shots. Her intention was to disqualify her opponents without saying anything. Until she reached the moment, especially economically, to uncover her theoretical quotes and formulas from her book.
And Massa went and came back. First, with an apology to the population for inflation and the bad economic situation. And then, with unpublished proposals («We are going to launch the Argentine digital currency», for example), and his always efficient message of hope.
The “replica button” was one of the novelties. When faced with an allusion, a candidate could ask to speak to answer (they had 5 for the entire debate).
The curious thing was that in the first block, when the economy was discussed, everyone began to ask for answers. In the living room, first there were comments and then laughter. “The one who is going to save some is going to be Schiaretti,” someone said in a low voice.
No sooner said than done. The man from Córdoba was one of those who managed to keep a replica for the second block, something that Massa and Milei did not take care to preserve.
The arrival of the first cut broke all protocols. The Forum, which had to keep its doors closed, opened them as soon as the candidates left the stage and the tension that had built up until that moment seemed to subside… even the sandwiches and soft drinks that were waiting in the VIP for the special guests.
In less than 10 minutes they announced that the television air was returning. With some notes on the lecterns, Bullrich managed to improve his performance, especially in some replies to Bregman and always with an effective resource: calling the rival by his last name, then leaving a silence.
Schiaretti continued to exploit the Cordoba vein at all times. He never read, nor did he doubt the answers. And he was able to present some concrete ideas (give the Central Bank to the opposition, or explain to Milei that education depends on the provinces).
Massa’s fight was always to charge against Milei. Polarize at any cost, to show yourself as the contrast to the libertarian. He achieved it in a few moments. One was when she told him that she was giving him the opportunity to ask Pope Francis for forgiveness for what she had said about him. The libertarian did not ask for it, but he said he had done it before.
And Bregman once again put in another phrase for Twitter. «Communism where it was applied was an economic, social, and cultural failure and it killed 150,000,000 human beings. Do you want to tell me why you want to apply it here?» Milei asked him. “I don’t know if that was dictated to you by Macri and the Rincón del Vago, but the truth is that it is false,” the left-wing candidate responded.
Those present at the Forum agreed last night that, in the end, Bregman had been the most solid, and Schiaretti the most convincing. There was praise for Milei for insisting on a tough message without complexes, they highlighted Massa for his ability to surf the reality for which he is responsible, and they stressed that Bullrich managed to counterattack when he should have done so (as in the Maldonado case). That is, there was no clear winner.
The second half will be played next Sunday, in Buenos Aires. With the notes of the conclusions, and the elections around the corner.