Iranian media and some top political figures have condemned presidential candidates for painting a dim picture of the state of the country.

The state news agency IRNA, a chief supporter of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, says that with no candidates endorsed by the administration, the approved candidates used the televised debates as an opportunity to “crush the current administration.”

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s preferred candidate, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, was disqualified from running in the election by the Guardian Council.

In the second round of debates, the eight approved candidates were highly critical of the current administration, condemning its forceful and oppressive policies at universities and in the cultural arena.

Ahmad Khatami, the hardline cleric and member of the Assembly of Experts, warned candidates on Wednesday that some of their speeches “reek of blackening the image of the country” and “irrational compromises with foreigners will not solve the problems of the country.”

These statements came a day after Iran’s Supreme Leader reacted to the presidential candidates, saying: “Some talk of giving advantages to the enemy in order to silence them, but we should remember that the enemy is fearful of Islam’s awakening.”