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Mexican presidential debate overshadowed by row over assistant's dress

Mexico’s electoral commission says an assistant’s revealing outfit was a distraction from a debate between presidential candidates.

Julia Orayen's 15-second appearance was enough to distract from the two-hour Presidential debate.
Julia Orayen's 15-second appearance was enough to distract from the two-hour Presidential debate.
Image: YouTube screengrab

MEXICO’S ELECTORAL COMMISSION has criticised the producers of the country’s first major TV debate between presidential candidates, saying the revealing dress of a production assistant had distracted from the discussion.

Julia Orayen, a model who has previously posed for Playboy, had been hired by an independent production firm contracted by the Federal Electoral Institute, which ran Sunday night’s debate between the four candidates in July’s election.

Orayen’s main role was to carry a container filled with pieces of paper, from which candidates would draw numbers indicating their speaking order – but the Electoral Commission admitted her outfit, a tight white dress with a low-cut neckline, had detracted from the ensuing debate.

In a statement quoted by the BBC, the institute said:

We are sorry about the production error associated with the clothing of one of the assistants during the first presidential debate and want to apologise to the citizens and the candidates for the presidency.

The apology was reportedly directed both to the candidates and to the Mexican public.

A producer commented that Orayen had been hired because she was shorter than the other two women who had applied for the job, and said that her outfit had not been checked due to the “madness of the moment”.

AP said images of Orayen and her outfit had been splashed across the country’s newspapers yesterday, and remarked that even the country’s former foreign minister – now an academic in the United States – was distracted by her.

“The best was the girl in white with the cleavage at the beginning,” tweeted Jorge Castaneda, who is now a professor at New York University.

Orayen’s name soon trended on Twitter in Mexico City, where a click revealed her previous work – including a almost-nude spread commemorating Mexican Independence Day, in which she appears in minimal garb modelled on images of Mexican founding father Jose Maria Morelos.

Interviewed by the Cadena Tres TV network yesterday, Orayen said the production team gave her instructions to wear a long, white dress, but she picked it up from her own closet.

“It was my only choice for a long dress. I didn’t think it would reveal as much or cause this much scandal,” she said. “I learned I like myself better when I’m covered up.”

At least one candidate was seen gawking at Orayen’s posterior from the dais: Gabriel Quadri, who is drawing single-digit support as the candidate of the New Alliance party, said her appearance made him nervous.

“It is impossible not to concentrate your attention on a woman so spectacular,” Quadri told MVS radio.

The debate isn’t the first time that the electoral commission has hit the news this year: in February it fined a boxer who wore a political party’s logo on his trunks during a championship match.

Juan Manuel Marquez had worn the logo of the Institutional Revolutionary Party during his defeat to Manny Pacquiao in a welterweight world title fight in Las Vegas last November.

That party’s candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, currently leads the opinion polls in the Presidential election. The election, appointing a successor to Felipe Calderon, will be held on July 1.

Additional reporting by AP

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Gavan Reilly

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