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Counting down

Rome Hartman | 16:30 UK time, Wednesday, 15 October 2008

For the entire year since our BBC World News America program was launched, we've been covering the American Presidential campaign.

BBC World News America logoThe first actual votes were cast just after New Year 2008...I'll never forget our desperate search for propane gas heaters to keep Matt Frei from freezing to death in the sub-zero temperatures as he presented the program from the grounds of the state capitol in Des Moines, Iowa.

Winter gave way to spring and then summer, and as you might have seen in Katty Kay's excellent report from New Hampshire this week, the autumn leaves are now turning. All along the way, we've tried to cover the campaign with accent and attitude, focusing less on the polls and the 'horserace' than on the ever-more-serious issues facing America and its citizens.

John McCain and Barack ObamaThe stakes for this election have always seemed incredibly high; both in America and around the world, people have long sensed that this is an historic 'inflection point' for America. But a year ago, many of us thought that the election might turn on the war in Iraq.

Over many months, the condition of the economy steadily crept to the fore, as it almost always does in American elections. But who could have predicted that the final weeks of the campaign would be conducted in the midst of a full-blown global financial crisis?

Both the McCain and Obama campaigns have struggled to keep pace with events, and to formulate serious responses to incredible fiscal and economic challenges. So have the news media...we've done our very best to make sense of confusing and frightening times.

As we count down to 4 November, we'll continue to bring a unique BBC perspective to both the political and economic stories in America. After election day, we'll be taking a serious look at the challenges and opportunities facing the winner. And then, on Inauguration Day, 20 January, we'll probably have propane heaters set up again, this time in Washington, to keep Matt from freezing as he tells the story of the 44th American President's procession to the White House.


  • Comment number 1.

    it seems we are being drawn into the american debat becouse of the missleading reports of america being the strongest nation on the planet, what are we a default 51st state?
    no we are the country that lost there war of independance,one of the 2 wars the americans have won, even though there media has it they have won most conflicts they are involved in.
    america has lost its mantle its a bankrupt country living a lie, they landed on the moon but china and japan are close to doing the same, so why does there election bother us ?
    i think its media spin and due to our special relationship to them.
    will the world be a safer place with a new american president ?
    i think it will go on the same as always.

  • Comment number 2.

    My god Rome

    Do you actually read any of the feedback you get to your blogs.

    The reporting of the presidential campaign has been shoddy at best. Nearly no-one this side of the pond is impressed with the output of the BBC, for a range of reasons.

    Yet still you persist. You even have the gall to say who could have predicted the economic downturn. Loads of people is the answer. Just read the commenst on the blogs. maybe you should use them for your research in the future. It seems we the commentors have more of a clue of whats happening than you the 'journalists'.

    i have not seen the BBC mention brezinski once in this entire campaign and it took you till the end of the nomination process to actually mention all the folks who were running.

    In a weird twist two of the guys you left out are the same two guys who were on platforms that were focussed on amongst other things, the oncoming economic problems.

    You couldn't make it up. It is almost comical.

  • Comment number 3.

    The USA election is particulary of interest to the world today. It is so because we witnessed for the first time the excesses of power and unipolar paradigm that the US has created in the world political arena. The invasion of Iraq, the presence of contractors such as Blackwaters, CACI, Hurliburton etc have led to the financial crisis that we have today. We would like an American President who has not been involved in the cartels that have ruined the US and by extension the world Economy. The financial crisis is just but the beginning of the indication that corruption does not work for the world it works against it. So the World has elected Barack Obama can Americans Elect him?

  • Comment number 4.

    I presume all the money going into this channel, and your self-congratulation on it, came at the expense of the cuts to the excellent World Service?

    Why waste a journalist of Matt Frei's ability on this nonsense? I note that, until the day of the voting, you managed to have absolutely no reporting of the Canadian federal election. Several thousand (it seems) reporters in diners across Ohio, but no-one covering a G7 country having a general election in the midst of a financial crisis.

    It would have been interesting to get Matt's view, as a seasoned reporter, on the right(ish) wing Stephen Harper's retention of power, as contrasted to the Republicans' increasingly slim chances of winning.
    That would strike me as worthwile and interesting journalism, as opposed to interviewing the most red-necked American voter you can find, just so you can snigger at them.

  • Comment number 5.

    #1. I wonder what the second war you think the US have won was?

    I'd suggest you choose from the following list:

    The war of 1812
    WW1 (O.K they started late but they were on the winning side)
    WW2 (as above)
    Korea (the UN mandate was to restore S.Korea not conquer the North)
    Gulf War 1 (again mandate was only to liberate Kuwait, not conquer Iraq)

    You could also argue a case for the cold war, Afghanistan in the 80's, Indian wars etc although none of these were exactly wars in the conventional sense.

  • Comment number 6.

    Well I, for one, am glad my TV Licence Fee (arrived this morning) is keeping someone employed.

    Gainfully is a moot point; I mean there are 'big' things going on over here not requiring hotel and transport expences but I suppose you are entitled to your jollies.

    Come home, dear boy, and help track down all these subprime bonds festering in British banks.

    I mean, someone must6 have them. What happens when all the poison bursts and spills out all over the place?

    Now, there's a good story without crossing any pond.

    By the way, will the Americans be covering our next election over the next year?

    Bet your bottom dollar, no. Prime or subprime.

  • Comment number 7.

    Walrus: to be fair our next election won't be nearly as coverable.... we only have a few weeks run up to one, unlike the amazingly elaborate carefully schedule charade the americans go through. Neither do we directly elect a leader, merely a party which also makes for less exciting news. Whether Obama or McCain get into the white house matters to us. Whether Nottingham North has a 5% swing to the Lib dems doesn't matter to the average American.

    Regarding the 'toxic bonds' in British banks- they should be treated like real toxic waste: kept carefully buried where they can't do any harm. Another attack on the banks by the BBC is the last thing we need now.

  • Comment number 8.

    > Both the McCain and Obama campaigns have struggled to keep pace with events

    And what about Bob Barr, Cynthia McKinney, Chuck Baldwin and Ralph Nader? How
    are their campaigns progressing?

    Given the BBC's coverage one would never know that there are more than two
    candidates in this election. Is this the ``unique BBC perspective''?

  • Comment number 9.

    America is at a vital cross-road. Obama offers change and would like to blaze a new trail providing new economic opportunities to all Americans especially the middle-class and the poor. His main plank is to provide equal opportunities to all Americans to live the American dream. Of course there are critical problems to solve first and there are no easy remedies. For the last eight years, Americans have watched with great anguish the way the country has been run and where resources have been poured down the drain especially with regard to Iraq with no proper exit strategy! McCain has been loyal to George Bush but unfortunately George Bush's policies have been a catalogue of errors of judgement which have been very costly. America needs to mend relations with the rest of the world. Its standing is at an all-time low.

  • Comment number 10.

    The extremist mantra of the Reagan Republicans --

    "A government that governs least, governs best."

    "If it ain't broke don't fix it."

    -- has culminated into the do-nothing, crisis management, bailout government we have today.

    We malingered in Iraq until sectarian violence was out of control, then we implemented a bailout plan, called the surge. We let Katrina sweep through New Orleans and destroy the lives of 100s of thousands of people, with a bailout plan that offered too little too late. We did nothing and watched the subprime mortgage crisis unfold and destroy our economy, then rushed in with a bailout plan that will have little, if any, impact, on our financial well-being in the coming years.

    The Reaganism/neo-conservatism mantra is a failed ideology in this and in many other respects.

    The democratization of the world through U.S. military adventurism, the privatization of legitimate government functions, supply-side economics, and the deregulation of industries that directly impact the welfare of the American people, are ALL failed neo-conservative ideologies.

    "It is morning in America again." The American public have just woken up and have seen the ugly landscape created by Reaganism/neoconservatism.

    "It is morning in America again." Americans will seize the day and will reclaim their constitutional right to a government that governs well.

  • Comment number 11.

    Some politicians and physicist-turned administrators feel that increasing funding on physics education will be sufficient for overconing present crisis in physics / science education.

    I do not think so, otherwise activities like IYP (International Year of Physics) would be unnecessary.

    Barack Obama, John McCain and leaders from all over the world have to take notice of this point. More information of my views on physics education can be given on request.

  • Comment number 12.

    With the mounting bad news for their campaign, McCain/Palin will have no choice but to go increasingly negative in their attacks. Anybody else see this leaked 527 spot?

  • Comment number 13.

    One of the reasons people vote for Obama...
    It may only work in the US


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