>> In the first televised debate ahead of Mexico's presidential election, one candidate proposed thieves should have their hands chopped off. The comments by Jaime Rodriguez, an independent known as El Bronco, shocked a moderator who asked him repeatedly if he was speaking literally. To which Rodriguez replied, quote, that's right.
While Rodriguez is trailing in opinion polls, he was trending on Twitter ahead of the other candidates during the debate, setting off a storm of memes. Lawlessness and corruption are front and center in the election campaign, with candidates feeling the pressure to offer ways to deal with the current wave of violent crime.
Reuters Dave Graham is on the story.>> It's not for the first time, crime and corruption are major issues in the current election campaign. When the current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, was elected, he pledged to get a handle on them and to bring them down. He hasn't really had so much success.
There was record violence in Mexico last year. And of course one of the main things that all the candidates are promising this year is how to tackle the problem.>> Candidates including Rodriguez pounded the leftist front runner, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, on the topic. The attacks on Obrador, who boasts a double-digit lead in one poll, focused on a proposal he floated to explore an amnesty for criminals to pacify the country.
>> Lopez Obrador has been the runner-up for the last two presidential election campaigns in Mexico. And after years and years and years of being ruled either by the PRI, which is in the center, or the PAN, which is on the center-right, particularly in the age of Trump, Mexicans are looking for a change.
None of the big solutions that have been promised for years have really materialized. And I think a lot of people in Mexico just think, well, let's try something different.>> Mexico's current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, isn't running due to term limits.>>