Posts tagged ‘john mccain’

Posts from America (3) – The only day that counts is tomorrow

Michelle Ob...

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Michelle Obama flew in today and held a rally at the College of South Nevada. The accompanying photo shows her at the event. Her speech went down really well with the enthusiastic audience of around five hundred, who stood in the glorious sunshine to chant ‘Yes We Can!’ and show their appreciation of Michelle’s part in the campaign.

The speech was more of an emotional testimonial than a detailed outline of policy though she did hammer home central messages about education, the economy, jobs and the Iraq war. Michelle seemed choked at times when she told stories of people she’d met and the highs and lows experienced since the start of the campaign.

‘The campaign has been fun’ she said, ‘and the rallies have been amazing, but the only day that counts is tomorrow.’ Her pride in her husband was clear and she spoke touchingly about what the impact had been on the Obamas as a family. I was impressed with how at ease she was with the crowd. She appeared to speak unscripted though I’m sure she has given similar speeches many times. She dealt ably with the frequent enthusiastic shouts from the crowd and delighted people with an extended rope line walk when she came off stage. There were at least seven television cameras covering the event, I counted fourteen other journalists scribbling in the press pen and she apparently gave a number of one-to-one interviews when she came off stage.

This was a slick event which touched the spot with the assembled activists. I’ve been involved in the planning and delivery of a number of similar events in the UK with the Labour Party, though nothing on this scale would ever have been staged for the leader’s wife. In US politics it seems that a candidate’s family plays a crucial part in the campaign’s ultimate success.

Michelle Obama’s visit was one of three high profile ones taking place today. Sarah Palin visited Reno in the north of the state and Senator McCain will fly in this evening at the end of a grueling day of visits to swing states. Nevada is a small state with only five electoral college votes, but it is crucially important to both campaigns. For Obama it represents a fail safe. Pollsters believe he already has 264 solid blue state votes. Nevada’s 5 would bring him to 269, which is the number representing an electoral college tie. In the event of a tie, the House of Representatives must vote to decide the winner and because the Democrats control the House, this means that a win in Nevada would mean the Democrats taking the presidency. McCain is obviously keen to stop this happening and his campaign is therefore fighting hard to keep it for themselves. The last time that Nevada voted Democrat in a presidential election was for Bill Clinton in 1996.  As an added indication of how important this fight is, the Obama campaign has over three thousand lawyers in Nevada alone ready to get involved if there is any repeat of the 2000 election.

Our committee room in north Vegas is well prepared for tomorrow. We’ll be starting at 5.30am when we will hang ‘don’t forget to vote’ signs (very quietly!) on the front doors of people we hope will vote for Obama. Following that after a quick breakfast we’ll be knocking on doors to encourage people to get to the polls as early as possible as there is concern that later in the day the lines will be very long and people may decide it’s not worth the wait.

Polls close in Nevada at 7pm tomorrow. The optimistic voices here think that if the Republican turnout is down on those who voted in 2004 and the Democrat vote is dramatically up (many think this is likely) then we should know the outcome by 9pm west coast time. A large party on Vegas’s Strip is planned and I’ve got my fingers crossed that one of the hardest working and most committed Obama supporters will make an appearance. If she does, the question I have for Obama Girl is, does she hope for a place in the new administration?

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November 4, 2008 at 5:43 am 1 comment

If the world could vote…

McCain as a student at the US Naval Academy in...

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The Economist is running an interesting online Vote 2008 poll entitled Global Electoral College – what if the world could vote. I’ve been tracking developments over the last few days and things don’t look good for John McCain. A few days ago the only countries definitely in favour of a McCain presidency were Georgia and Iraq. Namibia, Sudan and Algeria were on the cusp of endorsing the Senator from Arizona and Macedonia, Columbia, Venezuela and Myanmar were wavering. Today Iraq seems to be having second thoughts and Georgia is looks far better for Obama. The rest of the world seems to have fallen in love with Senator Obama and in some countries like Greece and The Netherlands, McCain doesn’t even make it to double figures. Bleak news for the Republicans.

This poll probably tells us more about the readership of The Economist than it does about the two candidates real chances, but it’s interesting that a magazine with a history of support for free trade and liberal economics has a readership which so overwhelmingly supports Obama – a candidate who’s position on trade is at odds with that of the paper. It must be said that the poll results are not the editorial line – for that we need to wait for the November 1st issue, but I wonder if the editor will be brave enough to take on his readership and argue the case for McCain. Interesting the Financial Times, another economically liberal newspaper endorsed Obama earlier this week in glowing terms. The editorial was followed by an excellent live FT webcast debate with Republican pundit Andrea Tantaros trying her best to shore up support for her party’s candidate.

I’m getting particularly excited about this election as I’m heading West to Nevada at the end of the week for the last few days of the campaign. I’ll be sure to post news from the States giving my on-the-ground analysis.


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October 29, 2008 at 11:05 am Leave a comment

Big lesson from wee Canada

Tired of all the election speculation coming out of the U.S. these days?  Well allow this polite, humble Canadian to steer your attention north of the Canada-U.S. border to where another federal election campaign is underway – one that may be over before most of the world realizes it had ever began.


I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that since settling at Fleishman Hillard Brussels, I haven’t heard a peep about the excitement back home, despite my religious attachment to FH Canada’s election blog – (yes, what a shameless plug). What with global economic meltdowns, U.S. election debates and U.K. party politics, there’s not much room in the political newscycle for wee Canada.

But gosh darn it (yes, Canadians are that polite), wee Canada deserves some attention!  After all, if you consider that the land of beavers, Mounties and maple syrup will be the first member of the G8 to go to the polls following “the worst financial crisis since ’29”, there may be a few reasons to watch and learn from the Canadian experience.

While I wouldn’t go as far as suggesting that the fate of incumbent Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a pre-cursor to John McCain’s (all told, it’s most likely that Harper will eek out a small minority government this coming Monday), both men’s laissez-faire approach have been interpreted by their opponents as “out-of-touch” and lacking compassion.  Just look at the reaction to Mr. Harper’s suggestion yesterday that the recent downturn is an opportunity to buy cheap stocks and you’ll understand how exceedingly sensitive members of the public are becoming to the current economic situation.  It seems people want both a big heart and big government in these times of need and the small-C conservatives who ignore this point, both in Canada and abroad, do so at their peril.

But then again, we should not forget that “conservative” governments, including the current Republican administration, have been at the head of some of the largest government spending projects in modern history.  No Child Left Behind, money for AIDS in Africa, the war in Iraq – good or bad, these are all record-making expenditures that precede the most recent and single largest cheque ever written by a national government in the history of the world.  Perhaps when John McCain suggested in yesterday’s presidential debate that Barack Obama would raise taxes, the Democratic candidate should have answered, “Yes, to pay for Republican bills!”.  And given the fact that an economic turnaround is not foreseeable at this point, could it be that these big spend tendencies will be reinforced?  Again, today’s support from the U.K. Tories for Gordon Brown’s £50 billion bank bail-out is but another example.

But I digress – and most certainly do so at the peril of future postings on this blog!  So let me end by revising my argument about the significance of the highly under-covered Canadian campaign.  Perhaps not only will this election be a clear reminder for conservatives, worldwide, of the need to go back to their big government roots, it may in fact represent one of the last major Western campaigns for a while where conservatives can credibly argue for smaller government.

But then again, I’m getting ahead of myself.  I am after all just a humble Canuck pining for a little world attention.

Canuckia Blair

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October 9, 2008 at 9:33 am 9 comments

Obama and the iPhone

Image representing IPhone as depicted in Crunc...

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There is little doubt that if queues to vote for the Democrats on November 4 are comparable to queues on the release of the iPhone, then Obama will be a happy man.  Last week Obama’s team announced that the link between Obama and the iPhone ran deeper, with the creation of an application for the iPhone which encourages friends and families to vote.

The imaginatively-named ‘Obama 08 Phone App’ has a ‘Call Friends’ option that prioritizes contacts by key battleground states and asks users to call their friends in those states to vote for Obama. The software also enables users to receive updates about the campaign and set reminders to call friends on Election Day. Chris Hughes, the director of online organizing for the Obama campaign explained, “A contact has a lot more value when it is from someone you know than when it is from some random person,” said Chris Hughes, the director of online organizing for the Obama campaign.

Amid such talk, it is easy to forget that the subject of the conversation is political campaigning. Indeed, categories such as “Not Interested,” “Considering Obama” and “Already Voted,” are more suggestive of an online dating tool. Herein lies the ingenuity of ‘Obama 08 Phone App’: the obvious question as to why friends would want to sort their contacts into anything other than alphabetical lists is lost in the originality of the application.  The software plugs into the millions of American iPhone lovers and Obama supporters in the hope that the passion for the former might be mirrored in support for latter on November 4.

Obama’s use of digital tools provides interesting insight into political campaigning in the 21st Century. His website has links to no less than 16 social networking tools, as well as the now almost standard TV channel. Whilst not all of the platforms are likely to appeal to the European voter (indeed British iPhone lovers are unlikely to fall for a ‘Brown 08 Phone App’), the US election does offer innovative ideas for politicians on this side of the Atlantic.


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October 7, 2008 at 12:25 pm 1 comment

Politicians lie: it’s a fact

The wind blows, it rains in Brussels and politicians lie.  These are facts. While we remain powerless to do much about the first two, a US website has launched an attack on lying politicians. The St Petersburg Times of Florida and Congressional Quarterly of Washington, DC – two of America’s most trusted, independent newsrooms – created, a fact-checking website that helps voters separate fact from fiction in the claims made during the 2008 presidential campaign. The PolitiFact team checks the accuracy of speeches, TV ads, interviews and other candidate claims and communications, rating them on the ‘truth-o-meter.’ In the event that a politician should, shock-horror, make a u-turn on a particular policy, there is the ‘flip-o-meter,’ with increasing degrees of flipping leading to a ‘full-flop.’ A page dedicated to the candidates collates the data, showing the degree of truthfulness of the individual candidates.

Currently, Obama seems to be running away from McCain in the honesty rankings, with most of Obama’s statements underpinned by some grain of truth and only once were his ‘pants on fire.’ McCain, meanwhile, must be running out of pants to wear, with six fires to his pants and a roughly equal number of true and false statements. is an interesting addition to the cynical world of politics. Bringing political statements under scrutiny could not only increase public confidence but also make politicians more aware of the need for consistency and truthfulness. Lying politicians might be a fact, but it is certainly not a fact that we should accept as readily as the weather.


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October 1, 2008 at 5:44 pm 1 comment

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A blog on politics, policy, public affairs and communications in Brussels and the European Union. The blog is written by the team at Fleishman-Hillard in Brussels. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect those of the company or its clients. You will find the contact details of our team at

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