With a message of unity, former Argentine President Cristina Fernández and running mate Alberto Fernández kicked off their election campaign Saturday, almost a week after the ex-leader stunned the country by saying she was running for vice president.

Many thought Cristina Fernández, who governed Argentina from 2007 to 2015, would head any presidential ticket and the news that she would play the undercard to her and her late husband’s one-time Cabinet chief came as a surprise. The ex-president was seen as the main challenger to President Mauricio Macri, who is running again amid a biting recession that has cost him support.

“I felt obliged to do this,” Cristina Fernández said to thousands of supporters in Merlo, a poor area in western Buenos Aires. During her speech, she mentioned the creation of a new “social contract” among political, social and economic leaders to resolve the South American country’s problems.

Presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez, left, and his running-mate, former President Cristina Fernandez, no relation, greet supporters during their kick-off campaign rally in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, May 25, 2019. Argentina will hold general presidential elections on Oct 27. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
Presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez, left, and his running-mate, former President Cristina Fernandez, no relation, greet supporters during their kick-off campaign rally in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, May 25, 2019. Argentina will hold general presidential elections on Oct 27. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)

Fernández, 66, faces a series of corruption trials and her decision to only run as vice president is seen as putting a more moderate challenger at the helm of the Unidad Ciudadana ticket.

Alberto Fernández served as chief of staff from 2003 to 2007 for Fernández’s predecessor and late husband, Néstor Kirchner. He remained in the position during a portion of Fernández’s term as president, but left in 2008 during a conflict with farmers over an increase in export taxes.

“Together we will do what is needed to get Argentina out of the terrible position it has been put in,” said Alberto Fernández in the joint rally, hammering at the country’s economic woes.

Argentine presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez acknowledges the audience during a campaign rally, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, May 25, 2019. After her surprise announcement last week that she will run for vice president in October’s general elections, former President Cristina Fernandez along with her running mate presidential candidate contender Alberto Fernandez, kicked off their campaign with a political rally on the outskirts of Buenos Aires on Saturday. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
Argentine presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez acknowledges the audience during a campaign rally, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, May 25, 2019. After her surprise announcement last week that she will run for vice president in October’s general elections, former President Cristina Fernandez along with her running mate presidential candidate contender Alberto Fernandez, kicked off their campaign with a political rally on the outskirts of Buenos Aires on Saturday. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)

Some polls have suggested Cristina Fernández could defeat Macri in a second round of voting, but it is unclear how those prospects will change now that she has thrown her hat in the ring in a lesser capacity.

The former president has been accused of taking bribes in exchange for public work contracts, but denies wrongdoing and says lower courts did not allow her to present more witnesses. In separate cases, she faces several formal investigations into allegations of bribery, money laundering and criminal association during her administration and that of Kirchner.

Still, many voters are frustrated by an inflation rate that reached 47.6% last year, the highest since 1991, and a decision by Macri’s government to slash subsidies on utilities and public transportation. In April, the Argentine peso hit a record low due to growing distrust of the conservative president’s economic management.

Former President Cristina Fernandez, who is running as a presidential candidate running mate, speaks during a campaign rally, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, May 25, 2019. After her surprise announcement last week that she will run for vice president in October’s general elections, Cristina Fernandez along with her running mate presidential candidate contender Alberto Fernandez, kicked off their campaign with a political rally on the outskirts of Buenos Aires on Saturday. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
Former President Cristina Fernandez, who is running as a presidential candidate running mate, speaks during a campaign rally, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, May 25, 2019. After her surprise announcement last week that she will run for vice president in October’s general elections, Cristina Fernandez along with her running mate presidential candidate contender Alberto Fernandez, kicked off their campaign with a political rally on the outskirts of Buenos Aires on Saturday. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)

Macri says he underestimated the macroeconomic imbalances inherited from his populist predecessor, center-left Fernández.

“Those who are here are Argentines convinced we are the gateway out of this gray moment in Argentina,” said Alberto Fernández.

Supporters of presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez and his running-mate, former President Cristina Fernandez, no relation, attend a campaign rally in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, May 25, 2019. After her surprise announcement last week that she will run for vice president in October’s general elections, Cristina Fernandez along with her running mate presidential candidate contender Alberto Fernandez, kicked off their campaign with a political rally on the outskirts of Buenos Aires on Saturday. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
Supporters of presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez and his running-mate, former President Cristina Fernandez, no relation, attend a campaign rally in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, May 25, 2019. After her surprise announcement last week that she will run for vice president in October’s general elections, Cristina Fernandez along with her running mate presidential candidate contender Alberto Fernandez, kicked off their campaign with a political rally on the outskirts of Buenos Aires on Saturday. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
A young supporter of former President Cristina Fernandez, holds a copy of her book,
A young supporter of former President Cristina Fernandez, holds a copy of her book, “Sincerely” during a campaign rally at Nestor Kirchner Park in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, May 25, 2019. After her surprise announcement last week that she will run for vice president in October’s general elections, Cristina Fernandez along with her running mate presidential candidate contender Alberto Fernandez, kicked off their campaign with a political rally on the outskirts of Buenos Aires on Saturday. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
A man doused in silver body paint holds a sign with a message that reads in Spanish:
A man doused in silver body paint holds a sign with a message that reads in Spanish: “Five thousand jobs,” in reference to the informal job market, attends the kick-off campaign rally of presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez and his running mate, former President Cristina Fernandez, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, May 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)