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How "The One" won ...

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Robin Lustig | 14:39 UK time, Wednesday, 5 November 2008

I'm sorry, I can't resist the temptation: I told you so.

To me, Barack Obama has looked like a winner for several months, not so much because of his policies, but because of his cool, his poise, and his hugely impressive campaign organisation.

But let's not get carried away. He won just over half the popular vote, and the result - victorious though he was - was not a walk-over. Nearly half of the Americans who voted yesterday chose his rival, John McCain, who last night made one of the most gracious concession speeches that I have ever heard.

Over the past few hours, I've spoken to the President of Liberia, the French foreign minister, the Russian ambassador to London and many, many others. Each one of them welcomed his victory, and each for the same, unspoken reason: He is not George Bush.

Here in Washington, there have been remarkable scenes of jubilation in bars and out on the streets. And it's been the same picture in many other American towns and cities, particularly those with large concentrations of young voters or black voters. To them, Barack Obama represents a genuinely new beginning. He will find it hard not to disappoint them.

To me, though, the moment I'll remember is when I asked the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, if he could imagine French voters choosing someone from a minority community as their President. There was a long, long pause before he finally said: "I hope so, one day. But perhaps not yet."


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