After holding out for five days, Miguel Arias Cañete has finally apologized.
On Wednesday, the Popular Party (PP) candidate in Sunday’s European elections told the conservative radio station Cope that “if I have offended anybody, naturally, I apologize for it.”
It was the former agriculture minister’s attempt to close the door on controversial statements he made last Friday, when he claimed that men are “intellectually superior” to women, and that this is the reason why he refrained from going too hard on his opponent, the Socialist candidate Elena Valenciano, during a televised debate a day earlier.
“I am not sexist, but it’s clear that I expressed myself in an unfortunate manner, and that some people are conveying a mistaken image of me. I have always valued women and men equally,” he said, adding that during the televised debate he was “not himself.”
The PP immediately went into damage control mode, downplaying Cañete’s statements
From day one of the incident, the PP went into damage control mode, downplaying Cañete’s statements and restricting their candidate’s public presence on the recommendation of Pedro Arriola, a sociologist and top aide to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
On Sunday, the conservative daily La Razón published an interview with Cañete in which he blamed his controversial remarks on “being tired.”
Meanwhile, Socialist leaders and Elena Valenciano’s campaign team mobilized their European colleagues, and an international offensive against the “sexism” of Cañete’s statements did its part to damage the conservative candidate’s image. PP sources have admitted that Cañete was “badly hit” early this week.
After the apology, Cañete returned to the public arena with a flurry of appearances, focusing his discourse on Europe and discrediting Valenciano.
With elections right around the corner, the PP is confident that the crisis will have no effect on the vote.