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News, November 2012

 

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Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.

 
Obama Likely to Get 48%, Romney 47%, According to Two Days Before Election Poll

Obama, Romney remain close two days before election: poll

Sunday, November 4, 2012, 12:19pm EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -

The race between U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney remained in a dead heat ahead of Tuesday's election, according to a Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll released on Sunday.

Of 3,805 likely voters polled nationally, 48 percent said they would vote for Democrat Obama, while 47 percent sided with Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, the poll showed.

The results fall within the poll's credibility interval, a tool used to account for statistical variation in Internet-based polls.

Obama and Romney have been locked in a neck-and-neck race for weeks. Over the weekend, both were making final appearances in a few crucial states, hoping to sway a shrinking number of undecided voters and to encourage their supporters to get to the polls.

The poll's credibility interval was plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for likely voters.

Arab Americans offer Obama grudging support

Recent polls show the majority of Arab Americans intend to vote for incumbent President Barack Obama in next week’s election – but some say they have lost faith in the United States’ first black president.

By Imed BENSAIED reporting from Florida (text)

France 24, November 24, 2012

Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, has one of the highest concentrations of Arab American residents – not all of whom are Muslims – in the United States. It is home to the largest mosque in North America as well as the Arab American National Museum.

Arabs have been coming to Dearborn since the 1920s, and back then most of them were Christians. Newer arrivals are predominantly Muslim and come from across the Arab world, although the majority now living in this small city are of Lebanese origin.

In 2008, the USA’s two million Arab Americans voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. Voters in Dearborn are more lukewarm towards the US president this time round.

‘Obama turned his back on us’

Ali, a 26-year-old student, said he could not bring himself to vote, even though he had been an enthusiastic supporter of Obama in 2008.

The young man, who comes from a Lebanese family, said the United States’ first black president had failed to live up to his campaign promises and in particular “had not paid any attention to the country’s Arabs”. Consequently, he said, many of these voters were seriously reconsidering how they will vote.

“The president exploited our community by making us feel he was one of us,” he said. “But once he was in office he turned his back on us and simply carried on with the same old American policies.”

Ali is openly upset about Obama’s first term and insists that many of his fellow Muslims “will not fall into the same trap this time round”.

“I think they are more likely to vote for his [Republican] rival Mitt Romney or simply abstain from voting as a way of showing their displeasure,” he said.

Nevertheless, recent polls indicate that 75% of the country’s Arab American and Muslim voters intend to vote for the president.

Blocking the Republicans

Hussein, a 35-year-old Iraqi-American who works in an Arab restaurant, believes that very few Arab Americans and Muslims are paying much attention to the forthcoming elections, particularly in Dearborn.

Obama, he said, had lost credibility despite fulfilling promises to withdraw troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

ABOUT MITT ROMNEY

US ELECTIONS 2012 Is Mitt Romney too rich for the White House?

“He went to war in Libya, his administration is still far too supportive of Israel and the Middle East peace process is dead in the water,” he said.

“Meanwhile, there is a threat of military intervention in Syria to topple Bashar al-Assad’s regime and to arm opposition rebels. These are issues that are turning many Arabs away from wanting to support Obama this time around.”

Still, he said, he would vote for Obama, “if only to stop Mitt Romney and his Republican Party, who I absolutely do not want to see in the White House”.

‘He did what he could’

Hoda, a biology professor from a Lebanese family, says that despite any shortcomings perceived by many Arab Americans, she will definitely be voting for Obama.

“He did what he could in his first term in office in an extremely challenging political and economic environment,” she said. “It would have been absolutely impossible to change everything for the better in the short time given to him.”

She hopes that Obama will have the second term he needs to push through all his promised reforms.

“I will vote for him because he has a credible electoral programme,” she said. “He is much more of a realist and much more transparent as a candidate than Romney.”

Hoda said she believed Romney’s weakness was his mistaken belief that Americans were a superior people and that the USA was the centre of the world.

Not all the people she knows feel the same way, however: “But despite this I have a number of friends who believe in his promises to rebuild the country, or who simply want to have a different president, who will vote for the Republican candidate.”

Is 'Mr Business' Romney losing his grip?

With the US election just days away, both Republican candidate Mitt Romney and incumbent Barack Obama are hustling for an edge in the race. Yet in recent weeks, the president has been boosted by those traditionally considered Romney allies.

By FRANCE 24 (text)

France 24, November 4, 2012

In what has turned into a razor-close race, US President Barack Obama has relied heavily on endorsements from all the usual suspects – liberal-minded movie stars, musicians and writers, as well as the who’s who of the Democratic party. In the past couple of weeks, however, it looks as though the president has also enjoyed a slight boost in support from a less-likely milieu – figures from the political right and finance.

London-based newspaper The Economist stepped forward in support of Obama in its November 3 issue, albeit in a rather reluctant tone. Although the publication, which also endorsed Obama during his 2008 bid, called the president’s first term “patchy”, it justified its decision by comparing the two candidates’ track records. While an endorsement from an international newspaper may not seem like a big deal at first, the fact that it is a highly-respected business publication matters.

Since campaigning began, Republican candidate Mitt Romney has striven to portray Obama’s handling of the country’s struggling economy as ineffectual and horribly mismanaged. The Economist pleads a different case, applauding the president’s wherewithal for having “helped avert a Depression”, and thereby undermining a pillar of Romney’s campaign. What’s more, the newspaper gashes the Republican candidate’s own approach to the economy, calling him “the great flipflopper” and saying his macroeconomics are off the mark. Regardless, a reported 60 percent of the $1.8 billion in business-related contributions thus far in the election have gone to Republicans.

INTERACTIVE FEATURE

Just two days before The Economist’s tepid endorsement, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stepped into the presidential campaign after publishing a soberly worded statement endorsing Obama’s re-election bid on Thursday. A registered Independent, Bloomberg cited climate change as his principle reason for throwing his weight behind Obama.

While Bloomberg’s position on issues like gay marriage, abortion and gun control make it unlikely that he will sway voters in more conservative states, his status as a shrewd businessman and multi-billionaire may come as a check to Romney, who has attempted to tout his own business experience as a strength when it comes to tackling the country’s economy. Bloomberg’s endorsement carries all the more weight considering that the mayor, who Forbes rated as the 17th most powerful person in the world in 2011, declined to take sides during the last presidential election in 2008.

NJ Governor Chris Christie

FRANCE 24 'I cannot thank the president enough for his personal concern and compassion for our state.'

Most surprisingly, however, is New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie. Known for his free-flying opinions and fierce criticism of the president, the governor has had only good things to say about Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Christie, who has already endorsed Romney and was a speaker at the Republican National Convention, rattled other members of his party after stating that he “doesn’t give a damn about Election Day” and gushing that Obama deserved “great credit” for his deft response to the “superstorm”.

Christie’s compliments came a little more than a week after another prominent Republican and George W. Bush’s former secretary of state, Colin Powell, also endorsed the president’s re-election bid in an interview with CBS television. While Powell’s support came as no real surprise (he backed the Obama/Biden ticket in 2008), he did offer some searing commentary of Romney, saying that although he respected the Republican candidate, he had concerns over his stance on foreign policy.

“The governor... was saying things that were quite different from what he said earlier. I'm not quite sure which Governor Romney we would be getting with respect to foreign policy," Powell said in the October 25 interview.

With polls putting the race at neck and neck just days before the vote on November 6, both candidates are scrambling to fine tune their messages and rustle up support in swing states. As Obama and Romney kick their campaigns into overdrive, anything from The Economist’s unenthusiastic endorsement to Christie’s recent adulation could give the president a slight edge in his re-election bid – an advantage neither candidate can afford to ignore at this late stage in the game.





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