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Media: Colin Powell endorses Obama for President - New Europe

Colin Powell the former US Secretary of State has endorsed the President of the United States for re-election in the upcoming election on 6 November. Adding to the already higher polls following the final and third Presidential Debate. New Europe, 24.10.2012 The US election is of prime interest in most international media and this has spread via twitter, originally reported by Reuters earlier on 25 october. Whilst former Secretary of State Powell lauded Obama's Foreign Affairs actions in Afghanistan and tackling terrorism. European politicians are also keenly following the US elections with equal doses of fascination and restlessness as discussions regarding foreign conflicts have stalled in the meantime. Less than two weeks remain before the 6 November elections, featuring the apparently tight (and theatrical) presidential campaign between Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Uncertain of what kind of foreign policy will emerge from its transatlantic ally, the European External Action Service admits to awaiting election results before true talks about Syria, Iran, and the Arab world resume. However, EEAS Executive Secretary General Pierre Vimont also says now is as a good time to consider Europe’s role in foreign policy making. Given America’s focus on domestic issues, Europe should take more initiative in progressively complicated foreign affairs. “There’s no doubt we should be more forceful,” Vimont said Wednesday 24 October at an event with the German Marshall Fund on the U.S. elections. “It’s difficult because foreign policy is getting more complex. There are more parties involved.” To prevent further confusion, Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake (ALDE) argued a second term for Obama would better suit Europe. Uncertainty remains about Romney’s stance on foreign issues, even after the most recent debate that focused on foreign policy. Ask a question to either candidate about energy, Schaake noted, and you get an answer about jobs. Romney’s tour of Europe last summer didn’t exactly showcase his diplomatic skills, and while Obama is no longer the same 2008 candidate who inspired her to run for office, Schaake said the continuity Obama represents would accelerate discussions regarding urgent foreign issues. “There would be a quicker restart if Obama were re-elected,” she said. “The uncertainty of a new president in the White House would not help. Building on Obama’s policies would be much better for the world.” But Obama does not have a mandate to lead in the United States, at least according to former Utah senator Robert Bennett. The perception that Romney won the first debate decisively and an anticipated decline in minority voter turnout gives the Republican candidate a very good chance of winning. Bennett, who has managed Republican campaigns, explained a ‘great truth’ that if the incumbent is under 50% in the polls, the majority of voters want someone else. With Obama at 46-48 prior to the first debate, many voters weren’t convinced Romney was a good alternative – until the first debate. “Showing up way he did, he proved he is an acceptable ‘someone else,’ ” Bennett said. “That first debate changed everything… 70 million people saw Romney for first time and discovered he didn’t fit the caricature the Democratic campaign put together.” William Kennard, the U.S. ambassador to the EU and a key member of Obama’s 2008 campaign team, avoided explicitly endorsing the president but instead explained the historical significance of this election in terms of technology and spending. While only Obama used the internet to his advantage four years ago, both parties have force-fed the online masses material this time around. And whereas Twitter was just beginning to gain momentum in 2008, the social media website now hosts an influential parallel conversation in which campaigns measure “Tweets Per Minute.” Kennard compared its effect to that of the first televised debates in the Kennedy-Nixon election. Another “game-changer” according to Kennard is the super PACs (Political Action Committees) that have arose as a result of a Supreme Court judgment that allows unlimited, direct spending from corporations, unions and other organisations. Super PAC contributions have especially affected the number of TV advertisements; 703,000 have been broadcast in the state of Nevada. The super PACs have benefited Romney more than Obama, though Kennard said the key to the election for Obama would be the minority and urban presence on voting day. Regardless of his political leanings, Kennard said that whoever won the election actually would not affect the agenda between the ambassador’s office and the EU, noting that most of their work had bipartisan support. He also expressed confidence that regardless of who won, the transatlantic relationship would be in no way forsaken. “Any president who walks into the Oval Office realises we need to posture with Europe,” Kennard said. “It is the cornerstone for our relationship with world.”