The only time he was alone in front of Cristina Kirchner, at the end of December, Leandro Santoro started crying. Fifteen days before, the former president had uploaded a fragment of the legislator’s participation in TN studies to her networks with a fiery defense of the vice president. “Extraordinary intervention, political understanding, semantic precision and objectivity in the analysis. Look at it, it’s worth it,” she tweeted. Two weeks later, he invited him to his Senate office.
“My boss is Raúl Alfonsín, but Cristina is the one I admire the most”Santoro, a militant who grew up in the Alphonsinist culture, used to say privately, who definitively abandoned radicalism in 2015 to publicly defend Kirchnerism and who is now heading with serious chances to head the ballot of the Frente de Todos in the City, with the goal of consolidating a second place as decent as possible.
Between 25 and 30 points, they aim. To make matters worse, a possible intern between hard and moderate of the PRO worries Kirchnerism, due to its attractiveness. In yellow territory, for a long time, for Peronism, winning was no longer an objective.
Former candidate for deputy head of government behind Mariano Recalde in 2015, the year in which he disaffiliated from the UCR, with 45 years and a fleeting step by the Chief of Cabinet of Aníbal Fernández -of excellent connection- in the last months of Cristina Kirchner, Santoro joined the Frente de Todos bloc in the Buenos Aires Legislature in 2017 just over twenty years after shaking Alfonsín’s hand for the first time.
He had camped outside the Italian Hospital for weeks with a group of militants from “Los Unrompibles”, the group of young radicals of the committee of Formosa al 100, in the Caballito neighborhood, which Jesús Rodríguez knew how to sponsor.
The former president was recovering from the serious car accident in Río Negro, in the winter of ’99. When he was finally able to leave the hospital, he asked for a special room to talk with the young people at the camp. Santoro, first vice president of the Radical Youth and later already elected president, at the beginning of the century, befriended the former president. They began to drink coffee, and then directly ate every Thursday.
He lived with what he was wearing. Long hair, fan of San Lorenzo, known at the time from the bar, he moved between Parque Patricios and Boedo dressed as a gardener, canvas shoes and a Barça shirt. He always looked the same. He still remembers with his friends the day his mother called him loudly from Bingo Caballito in the midst of the crisis of 2000 to tell him that he had won the biggest prize: U $ S90 thousand. They bought two properties. Today he occupies one of them with his partner.
In a passive cabinet of ministers and secretaries of state with panic to the media ─ “nobody asks for the ball”, Aníbal Fernández synthesized it at the time─, Santoro tries to stand out.
Former son-in-law of Leopoldo Moreau – he has a daughter with Cecilia, a national deputy -, the legislator studies, prepares strategies, reads the newspapers for hours, analyzes his adversaries, asks for information and seeks to empathize. It makes the most of the networks. His crossing with Fernando Iglesias in the program “A dos voices”, ten days ago, had 2.5 million views on his social networks.
It was through Twitter that the legislator met Alberto Fernández, some time after the President abandoned project K and stood on the sidewalk across the street. They crossed a couple of messages, had coffee, and became friends. Fernández set up an office for him in Olivos that, in the end, Santoro never used. He was never formally appointed as an advisor, but he does serve in that role without an official position.
Leandro Santor speaks at an event with Máximo Kirchner and Leopoldo Moreau, his former father-in-law. Photo Rolando Andrade.
The sources assure that the legislator was the first to call him when Patricia Bullrich denounced him for alleged irregularities surrounding the failed contract by Pfizer. And the one who convinced him to initiate civil actions. And that with the false step of the AFIP in relation to the debts of the monotributistas, the former radical also fatigued the presidential telephone.
Santoro enjoys his moment of media stardom. A television enthusiast, he follows from political programs to gossip, his recent participation at the table of Juana Viale, on Channel 13, gave a lot to talk about. There were at least two important opposition leaders who rejected the invitation not to cross it. One of them, a former minister of Mauricio Macri who now wants to head the list of deputies in a coastal province.
Although sometimes, it transcends by the low, it goes out of hand. Last week, in WhatsApp groups of ultra Kirchnerism, an edited of a few minutes of his participation in the former table of Mirtha Legrand circulated with more than accommodating interventions towards the diva, her granddaughter and even towards Diego Santilli, also a guest, with the which has a privilege bond.
Days after that program, a neighbor stopped him in the neighborhood: she remarked that he had been “very soft” with the lunch diva and her granddaughter. It is paradoxical because another lady stopped him to emphasize the same thing, but the other way around: “I like you very well, you are in the wrong space,” he pointed out.
The option of leading the ballot of deputies in the City in the September and November elections carries this premise: the search to expand the electoral base in an elusive territory. An objective that the Frente de Todos pursued in 2019 with Matías Lammens, the minister who is now comfortable in his position. The possibility of topping the list of legislators is also in the heads of some.
In hard Kirchnerism, Santoro is criticized for “soloist”. They highlight your ability to debate, but assure that it is only for your personal benefit.
A sector of the Buenos Aires PJ was added to these criticisms due to the constant remarks of the legislator to the agreements sealed between the PRO and the Front of All regarding Justice. “When we talk about the Judicial Branch of the City, we are not talking about Comodoro Py or the courthouse, we are talking about a power that practically nobody knows and that has no sentences or convictions, because it keeps filing cases. This is the real box of politics, “he shot in one of his speeches in December.
There are few who underline that he did not do it just for a matter of principle. If not, especially because they didn’t warn him.
Santoro thus tried to get pus out of a pimple that local Peronism, the PRO and a sector of La Cámpora seek to make up. A silent alliance between Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, Daniel Angelici, Juan Manuel Olmos, Víctor Santa María and Mariano Recalde that a couple of months ago caused internal fissures. Now, neither Olmos nor the head goalkeepers have him among their favorites.
It’s weird because one of Santoro’s main ties to La Cámpora is Recalde. He met with Máximo Kirchner a handful of times. Andrés “Cuervo” Larroque is, in any case, his closest nexus, a product of neighborhood militancy: he was the one that brought him closer to camping.
In Kirchnerism they assure, however, that after that hot December speech in the Legislature, and crushing with the judicial agreements sotto voce, Cristina Kirchner met for the first time hand in hand with the Buenos Aires deputy.