Hadi Mirror

I am an Iranian journalist and blogger, studied Sociology, with interests and experiences in New Media and citizen journalism. I cover Iran on Global Voices here: http://globalvoicesonline.org/author/hadi-nili. I'm on twitter @ HadiMirror.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Iranians riveted to U.S. presidential race

TEHRAN | With only nine months to go before their own presidential voting, Iranians appear far more interested in the U.S. election than in their own, and many think the U.S. choice will deeply affect Iran.

Iranian newspapers and even the state-run Iranian broadcasting network - which typically cover only negative stories in the United States, such as school shootings and broken families - are writing and broadcasting about the U.S. campaign nearly every day and competing to report the latest events.

The Democratic nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, has plenty of supporters here, but some Iranians prefer Republican Sen. John McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Even Mr. Ahmadinejad, who is expected to run for re-election in June, has had trouble hiding his interest in the U.S. campaign. He told reporters at the United Nations last month that he wanted to meet with both U.S. presidential candidates - an offer that neither Mr. McCain nor Mr. Obama accepted.

Six months ago, Mr. Ahmadinejad expressed doubts that a black man could be elected president of the United States. As the senator from Illinois has moved forward in the polls, however, Mr. Ahmadinejad has tried to appear balanced, stressing that the presidency is an American choice.

His caution is based in part on historical disappointments here about U.S. elections.

In 1980, while Iranian students were holding 52 Americans hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini said President Carter would "take to his grave" his wish to be re-elected.

Furious at Mr. Carter for supporting the ousted Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and giving him refuge in the United States, Ayatollah Khomeini refused to release the U.S. hostages until after U.S. elections, which helped Ronald Reagan win the White House.

Afterward, Iranian leaders realized that Mr. Reagan was no kinder to Iran than the Carter administration and that U.S. policy toward Iran was largely bipartisan.

Still, Iranians have trouble hiding their interest in the U.S. vote.

[Full story here]

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