PM baffled as ’Mr. Rabbit’ pops up in Aussie election 「兔子先生」加入澳洲選戰讓總理大惑不解

Surreal shades of "Alice in Wonderland" crept into Australia’s election campaign recently when Prime Minister Julia Gillard was forced to deny that "Mr. Rabbit" had appeared on the hustings.
The nation’s first woman leader was asked in a radio interview to answer charges that she was deliberately calling her opponent Tony Abbott "Mr. Rabbit" instead of Mr. Abbott.
But Gillard appeared genuinely baffled when asked to answer some listeners’ claims she was making a point of running the ’r’ of "mr" into the ’a’ of Abbott to give her rival a humorous new moniker.
"Mr. Rabbit? What do you mean?" asked the leader who has in the past been criticised for her broad Australian style of speech.
When she was told that talkback radio listeners were speculating about her pronunciation of her conservative rival’s name, she said: "I wasn’t conscious of that at all. If I am doing it, I’m not intending to," she said adding very slowly and carefully that she would try to be more precise in the future.
In a campaign that features two candidates from opposite sides of the political spectrum offering broadly similar agendas, local media has frequently been forced to focus on minutiae and small details of the battle.
hustings: 複數名詞,指政見發表會場、選舉造勢演說與活動,如Three weeks before the election the candidates are all out on/at the hustings.(距離選舉僅剩三週,候選人紛紛在造勢活動中卯足全力拉票。)
make a point of sb/sth:片語,指刻意把某人或某事視為必要的、不可或缺的、特別注意某人或某事,如She made a point of thanking everyone in the department for their efforts.(她特地感謝部門裡所有人的努力。)
broad:形容詞,指帶有(某地)明顯口音或腔調的,如He spoke with a broad Australian accent.(他說話帶有很濃重的澳洲腔。)

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