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June 12th, 2009
12:07 PM ET

The man who could beat Ahmadinejad: Mousavi talks to TIME

Presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi holds up the 'V' sign after casting his vote on Friday.

Presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi holds up the 'V' sign after casting his vote on Friday.

Joe Klein and Nahid Siamdoust
TIME

The day before Iran went to the polls, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the leading reform candidate, agreed to talk to TIME magazine. The interview was held in a building that Mousavi, an architect and artist, designed himself, part of an art school and gallery complex in central Tehran. Mousavi — who is not overwhelmingly charismatic, but seems every bit the artist-intellectual — strolled into a bare conference room, with little security and only a few aides, dressed in a dark suit and blue-striped shirt. He seemed to understand the questions posed in English, but he answered in Farsi.

Mousavi has a reputation for being soft-spoken, but that is an exaggeration. He is whisper-spoken. His answers to our questions were cautious, precise, although surprisingly candid at times. He was most emphatic when we asked about the way Mahmoud Ahmadinejad conducted his campaign, which included a direct attack on Mousavi's wife, the famous artist and activist Zahra Rahnavard. "I think he went beyond our societal norms, and that is why he created a current against himself," Mousavi said. "In our country, they don't insult a man's wife [to] his face. It is also not expected of a President to tend to such small details."

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Filed under: Iran • Joe Klein
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