As Donald Trump continues to take jabs at Mexico, a new poll shows the left-leaning presidential front-runner for the country's upcoming election—who just denounced the U.S. president's foreign policy and "contemptuous attitude toward Mexicans" —with an 18-point lead.
According to the poll by Parametría, former Mexico City mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) holds 38 percent of the vote, showing a clear advantage over second-place Ricardo Anaya of the conservative National Action Party-led left-right coalition and third-place Jose Antonio Meade of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
"Lopez Obrador is breaking his ceiling ... he's growing in a way that wasn't expected," said Parametría founder Francisco Abundis.
Speaking Sunday in the border town of Ciudad Juarez at the official launch of this third presidential bid, López Obrador, also known by his initials, AMLO, said, "We are going to be very respectful toward the United States government, but we are also going to demand that (the U.S.) respect Mexicans."
"Neither Mexico nor its people will be the piñata of any foreign government," he said.
"We are not going to rule out the possibility of convincing Donald Trump that his foreign policy and, in particular, his contemptuous attitude toward Mexicans are wrong," he added.
"Those who defend the current economic model talk about modernity, but they don't mention that this 'modernity' is a synonym for the economy of the elite, one that benefits only a minority and excludes the majority," he added. "They tend to put up the supposed benefits of NAFTA as an example, but the few benefits have come at an extremely high cost."
Taking another indirect stab at Trump, López Obrador said, "Social problems and security issues are not solved by walls and force. Those problems are solved by economic development."
"It is difficult to say how much López Obrador could, or would, do if elected, given the forces arrayed against him, both at home and from the north," Latin America expert Mark Weisbrot recently argued at the New York Review of Books. "But if there is a reform candidate and party in the race, it is López Obrador and his Morena party."
The election for President Enrique Nieto's successor takes place July 1.