Strait Talker

Photograph for TIME by Chien-Chi Chang / Magnum Photos

Man on a mission: Ma presses the flesh at an outdoor market in Caotun

Ma Ying-jeou is weary. The presidential candidate for the Kuomintang, or KMT, slumps into an economy-class seat on a high-speed train bound for central Taiwan. It's 8 p.m. on a Tuesday night and he has already endured a grueling 12-hour schedule of campaign events — seminars, speeches, and a ceremony launching his latest book, Silent Courage. Yet with a crucial presidential election only days away, Ma, 57, can't afford to waste a single second. Minutes after his train arrives in the city of Taichung, Ma is whisked from the tracks into a waiting car and driven at...

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