BERLIN (AP) — Chancellor Angela Merkel's challenger in Germany's Sept. 22 election is drawing criticism for posing with what appears to be an obscene gesture on a magazine cover.

Peer Steinbrueck gave the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper's weekly magazine a "no-words interview," in which the interviewee responds by gesticulating to the camera.

The picture of an angry-looking Steinbrueck holding out his middle finger came in response to a question alluding to gaffes in his election campaign: "Slip-up Peer, Problem Peer ... you don't have to worry about nice nicknames, right?"

A message on Steinbrueck's Twitter feed read: "plain speaking doesn't always need words — for example when you're always being asked about stale news instead of really important questions."

Vice Chancellor Philipp Roesler said Thursday the gesture "isn't right for a candidate for chancellor."