HUACALERA, Argentina (AP) – Argentina's presidential campaigns sparred Thursday over just whom the country's most famous son is supporting.
Marcos Peña, campaign chairman for opposition candidate Mauricio Macri, criticized governing party candidate Daniel Scioli for comments that suggested that Pope Francis backs Scioli in Sunday's runoff election to replace outgoing president Cristina Fernández de Kircher.
The pope "clearly doesn't intervene in local politics," said Peña, who added that Scioli was being "disrespectful."
The papal comment at issue was Francis calling on his countrymen on Wednesday to "vote their conscience."
Scioli, who has often invoked the pope on the campaign trail, offered his take on what that meant a few hours later. He said the pope was sharing a "profound message" that "people should seek out who they think will best defend them."
Francis has not returned to his homeland since being named pope in 2013. The Vatican has said that is because the pope doesn't want to influence the election. Earlier this year, Francis said he sometimes "felt used" by local politicians who wanted to take their picture with him in Rome.
Thursday was the final legal day of campaigning ahead of Sunday's runoff.
Macri planned to close his campaign in Humahuaca, about 1,000 miles north of Buenos Aires.
Scioli scheduled his final rally in La Matanza, a part of Buenos Aires province that is a bastion of support for the ruling party.