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Mexican candidate has a Rick Perry moment

MEXICO CITY -- Oops! Politicians north of the border aren't the only ones struggling with gaffes this campaign season.

Mexico's leading presidential contender floundered in confusion for about four minutes when the audience at a book fair asked him to name three books that had influenced him. He was able to correctly name only one he has read "parts of:" the Bible.

Former Mexico State Gov. Enrique Peña Nieto holds a comfortable lead in opinion polls for the July 1 presidential election, but his appearance echoed the campaign-denting moment that Texas Gov. Rick Perry suffered at a Republican debate in November. Perry said he couldn't remember one of the three government agencies he pledged to eliminate if he were president. "Oops!" he finally admitted.

The floundering by Peña Nieto, a strikingly handsome man married to a television actress, fed into the images critics have tried to spin around him: telegenic, but hollow.

"I have read a number of books, starting with novels, that I particularly liked. I'd have a hard time recalling the titles of the books," he said at the book fair in Guadalajara.

Peña Nieto said that as an adolescent, he had been influenced by the Bible, and had read "parts of" it. He then rambled, tossing out confused title names, asking for help in recalling authors.

He said he liked "La Silla del Aguila, but he said it was written by Enrique Krauze, a famous historian. It was actually written by Carlos Fuentes, the country's most famous novelist. -- AP

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