Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Primary Sources: A case of Obama fever

Primary sources is a new regular feature that investigates how Africans view the U.S. presidential elections. Here are the first and second and third installments.

It’s now been two weeks that our intrepid BurkinabĂ© reporter has been in the United States, following the ups and downs of the Democratic and Republican primaries leading up to the U.S. Presidential Election, which is to be held in November.

Louis Oulon, a radio journalist from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso recently had the chance to hear Democratic candidate Barack Obama speak live in person, and afterwards Louis came down with a case of Obama fever.

Here is what he had to say.

This is a gift of God for the US. He is a fantastic guy. I attended his meeting at a high school yesterday in Virginia. I realize how this guy is going crazy in the polls. He has a gift in oral speech and seems to be touching what are the issues of American daily life when he is talking about education, how life is very expensive, health insurance. He’s doing well in his campaign.

His results from this weekend are good, looking to be one of the high points that he’s looking for as far as the campaign is going.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has always admitted that Obama is strong in places like Louisiana, Washington State, Nebraska and Maine and he was expected do well in those primaries and caucuses over the weekend
To me, this is not a surprise [they said this]. There is a kind of strategy campaign between Clinton and Obama. I mean there is an issue here. The Clinton staff are trying to say this is what is going to happen because there are many African Americans in these states, which is a way to bring race and color into the race. This is thing I am trying to understand.

In the high school [in Virginia] I saw more white people behind Obama than African Americans. It was very amazing. He looks to be a candidate who works for everybody. He always repeats that. ‘I am not a candidate for a single race.’

I was watching Larry King and he said that in California many Hispanics voted for Hillary Clinton and it is kind of projected that in Texas where there are many Latino people, they will be voting for Hillary again. But this Hispanic woman said she doesn’t think that is a good way to think. It’s not that Hispanics are having a meeting before they vote and say ‘let’s vote for Clinton or Obama.’ They have free minds and they are trying to think and choose independently.

What do you think about the state of Hillary Clinton’s campaign in light of her firing her campaign manager?
She is looking for results as far as she was seen as one of the favorites [in the primaries]. She really needs to be sure that she is winning. She is scared that she could probably be losing even though it looks for her to have the majority of super delegates. I understand that she is looking for the best strategy. I think that firing the campaign manager is not a good strategy. This time of the campaign she needs to keep quiet and give confidence to people. This is not the right signal.

Barack Obama always talks about how he will be the candidate to break the political divide in Washington. What are your thoughts on this so-called political divide?
I heard many people saying many times that he is the one that is capable to be the one to cross the border. Yesterday he said he works with McCain and he is the one that is capable to do this. He said ‘I can work with opponents and my guys.’ He’s the one that is going to negotiate with enemies. I don’t think Clinton or McCain agrees with that. He was quoting a former U.S. president, whom I can’t remember, but he said ‘You can be scared when you go and negotiate, but you shouldn’t be scared to negotiate.’ [Ed. Note: President John Kennedy said it.]

What about the Republicans?
[John] McCain didn’t do very well [over the weekend], but he is the front runner. What [Mike] Huckabee is doing is just teasing him. The most important stake for McCain is the conservative vote and undoubtedly he could not have the youth with him, so he will be focusing on the conservatives…I see that most of the conservatives that don’t look really satisfied with their candidate, John McCain. President Bush said there is no doubt that he is a conservative.

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