RIO DE JANEIRO - A leading Brazilian presidential candidate who was wounded in a stabbing will be hospitalized for at least a week, doctors said, even as allies argued Friday that the attack would only make him stronger in an increasingly polarized campaign ahead of next month’s election.
A knife-wielding man stabbed far-right congressman Jair Bolsonaro at a campaign rally on Thursday as he was being carried on the shoulders of a supporter. He suffered serious internal bleeding, according to surgeon Luiz Henrique Borsato, and underwent surgery in the small city where the attack happened.
Borsato said Bolsonaro was in serious but stable condition and would remain in intensive care for at least seven days. He was being transferred Friday to a premier hospital in Sao Paulo.
While it was unclear how long Bolsonaro would be unable to campaign, his vice presidential running mate, retired Gen. Hamilton Mourao, told reporters that the candidate will “come out of this process stronger than he went in.”
The candidate’s son echoed that belief in a tweet:
“Jair Bolsonaro is stronger than ever and ready to be elected President of Brazil in the first ROUND!” Flavio Bolsonaro wrote. About a dozen candidates are competing in the Oct. 7 voting. If no one wins an outright majority, there will be a second round Oct. 28.
Bolsonaro, a former army captain who has promised to crack down on crime and corruption, has long argued that Brazil is in chaos and needs a strong hand. That message has resonated with many Brazilians, putting him in second place in polling, but his often derogatory comments about women, blacks and gays have also repulsed many.
In a video shot by a senator who visited him in the hospital, Bolsonaro thanked his medical team in a weak and scratchy voice and said: “I never did harm to anyone.”
The motive for the attack on Bolsonaro remained unclear.