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MENAFN - Arab News - 31/10/2012

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(MENAFN - Arab News) Just days before the Nov. 6 US presidential election, the powerful New York Times editorial board came out endorsing incumbent President Barack Obama for re-election.

It started its long endorsement editorial with reference to the most important issue to voters - the economy. The editorial argued that the economy is showing signs of a slow recovery, but could relapse into recession if wrong policies are to take hold, in a clear reference to the Republicans. It added that Republican candidate Mitt Romney has reached this stage by telling the audience what they want to hear, but it endorsed Obama hoping that a newly elected Congress would cooperatively work together on policies much needed in America.

A day earlier, the Chicago Tribune also endorsed Obama as well as the Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times. A number of ethnic media outlets like the Spanish publication La Opinion were also among the Obama endorsers, stating that Obama was the only candidate for Hispanic voters.
On the other hand, Romney received the endorsement of The Des Moines Register, Iowa's largest newspaper. This is a significant move, as The Des Moines Register had endorsed Obama in the last election, and has not endorsed a Republican candidate since 1972.

The question remains as to what extent such endorsements in the mainstream print media have an impact in the tight race between the two candidates and whether this traditional media will continue to influence and impact the public in the age of social media and mushrooming communication. That is one of the issues at stake as perception continues to play a great role in helping voters make their choices.

Along the perception issue, it was interesting to note that Romney tried to paint a moderate picture of himself and even to distance himself from Bush. It remains to be seen how successful these efforts were.

The other point to look at is to what extent the race issue will play its part in the election. There was a growing feeling that race has acquired a growing role as the NBC television network and the Wall Street Journal found out in a joint poll, that 92 percent of registered African Americans seem to back Obama and only 5 percent back his Republican competitor Mitt Romney.

This factor has been highlighted following the endorsement by former foreign secretary and leading African American figure Colin Powell for Obama. It is the second time that Powell endorses Obama, as he did four years ago, initiating a rebuke this time from John Sununu, a Romney adviser, who questioned whether Powell's endorsement for Obama is out of racial loyalty.

The significance of the race issue is that it may help tilt the balance especially in battleground states like Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Nevada. The main issue before the Obama campaigners is how to translate that favorable feeling among registered African Americans into actual votes.

The eight-year legacy of former President George W. Bush resulted in two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that helped, among other things, in pushing the United States into a recession, in addition of course to tarnishing the image of the United States because of its ill-defined and ill-conceived war on terror.

Such a legacy led the United Kingdom, the closest US ally, and ironically enough, under the Tory leadership of David Cameroon, to issue a statement, saying there is no legal base for a preemptive attack on Iran, regarding its controversial nuclear program. This move was interpreted politically as a precaution against engaging in any attempts or strikes on Iran.

The endorsement by leading newspapers and the race issue will help augment this perception issue. However, at the end of the day, the question will not be restricted only to who will win, but whether the elected president can deliver on the election promises that seem to be increasingly daunting, both domestically and internationally.


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