>> Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Wednesday. Criticizing the candidates in Friday's presidential election, for mud-slinging unworthy of the Islamic Republic. Incumbent Hassan Rouhani, who holds a slim lead, promises to build bridges abroad, and boost freedom at home. He has pushed boundaries, by accusing his rival of human rights abuses when he was a judge.
But hardliner, Ebrahim Raisi, is fighting back. Hammering Rouhani for failing to produce the economic boom he promised, after the two-year-old nuclear deal. The Islamic Republic can go it alone, he says. Reuters chief Iran correspondent, Parisa Hafezi.>> Iran's interaction with the international community is at stake with Rouhani's defeat, in the upcoming election.
Rouhani has promised to open up to the world, and even lift the remaining US sanctions. Rouhani won his first term with three times as many votes as his nearest challenger. But it's a closer race this time. On Monday, a leading conservative dropped out, uniting the hardline camp behind Raisi.
Lining up with him, Khamenei himself, the Revolutionary Guards, and volunteer Basij militia. But Rouhani, too, has friends in high places. Reformist former President Mohammad Khatami has publicly backed him.>> It seems that Rouhani and reformists that are backing him have reached their goal. Of creating more enthusiasm, among Iranians who were disappointed because of Rouhani's failure to ease social limitations in the past four years.
>> Voter apathy is the biggest threat to Rouhani and his outward-looking vision. A high turnout could boost his chances. But Raisi has closed the gap, with promises of millions of new jobs. Unrealistic, but perhaps irresistible, to legions of poorer Iranians.