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Argentina's president Nestor Kirchner relishes lame duck role

President Nestor Kirchner appeared to relish lame duck status Tuesday in his first public event since his wife's election to replace him, but also made it clear that he would never be far from her side during the next four years.

He said he plans to serve as the top adviser to Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, a key member of the power couple many Argentines call "Kirchner Inc." They even plan to fly to work together most days in a helicopter from to the presidential palace from their suburban home.

"We are going to be working together so that this government really will be the best of all governments since 1983," when Argentina put an end to its military dictatorship, Kirchner said Tuesday.

Kirchner has joked he looks forward to becoming "first gentleman," and could even serve as his wife's "chief of protocol," in charge of teacups and spoons at state dinners.

Fernandez, a 54-year-old three-term senator, captured 45 percent of the vote Sunday, outpacing runner-up Elisa Carrio by more than 22 percentage points. A dozen other candidates trailed behind. Fernandez takes over from her husband on Dec. 10.

Interviewed Monday night, Fernandez attributed much of her success was due to her husband's accomplishments, adding it was Kirchner who oversaw Argentina's recovery from a deep financial crisis.

Asked what her husband will do after leaving power, she responded vaguely: "He's going to do what he has always done."

"He's a political animal," Fernandez said.

Tuesday's ceremony with Kirchner was to announce plans to build sewers in Buenos Aires province, but the focus quickly shifted to Fernandez' upcoming presidency.

"Knowing her more than anybody, Cristina, as the first elected woman president of this country is going to be a great president for all Argentines," Kirchner said.

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