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Doha Time & Temperature

‘Obama win would improve US image’
Wednesday, 12 March, 2008, 01:12 AM Doha Time

Mel Levin ... sees hope in Obama
By Ramesh Mathew
“IN the event of Barack Obama winning the American presidential elections in November, the whole world’s perception about the US could undergo a remarkable transformation and the country’s image could change considerably,” said Mel Levine, one of the chief advisors of the leading Democrat probable for the presidency.
Levine, a five-time member of the US Congress from California and a key campaigner for Obama, was in Doha on a short visit to attend the 3rd Conference on Enriching the Middle East’s Economic Future, that concluded at the Ritz Carlton yesterday.
Levine, a well-known attorney at law with US firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, told Gulf Times that no elections to the primaries to his memory in the last 40 years have been as keenly fought as the current race between Senators Hillary Clinton and Obama.
“In my memory, in no previous elections, were youth as actively involved as in Obama’s campaign these days. Needless to say, their vociferous participation prompts their parents to come out openly in favour of the candidate (Obama),” said Levine, who was a member of the Congress for an uninterrupted decade from 1983.
A large number of the Americans, who had been cynical as well as sceptical about accepting a relatively new face like Obama, have overcome their attitudes and changed perception in the process, Levine said.
The candidate’s antecedents have absolutely no bearing as claimed by some quarters, claimed the Congressman. “Otherwise, how could the voters of a predominantly white State as Wyoming, however insignificant the results of which may be, overwhelmingly favour Obama against Hilary Clinton in the primaries,” Levine asked.
The former Congressman also disapproved of a notion in a section of voters that Obama stands absolutely no chance against Republican nominee John McCain, whose war hero image stands out considerably among the Americans.
It’s true indeed that McCain’s war hero image is being discussed widely among Americans. “That doesn’t mean Obama is a pushover by any account,” stressed Levine.
He went on to say that as a relative youngster, age is on Obama’s side and the overwhelming support that he received from respected families such as the Kennedy’s, has helped turn the tide considerably in the Africa-born American’s favour.
The lone surviving member of the John F Kennedy’s family, Caroline, too has openly endorsed Obama and this has gone down well with a considerable section of the Democrat voters, according to Levine.
Ted Kennedy too has his pockets of influence and he has openly announced his sympathies for Obama, said Levine.
As a whole, no Democrat contender in recent times has been able to carry the youth along with him as Obama does, feels Levine.
Otherwise, how could a candidate, who was barely known outside his home state of Illinois could win this kind of appeal among the voters in such a short period, asked the attorney.
Notwithstanding his reiteration that Obama is the best choice to take on McCain, Levine said the race is far from being over for Clinton.
Though the black contender maintains a slight lead of about 100 delegates at this stage, some of the politically significant primaries like Carolina and Pennsylvania, North Carolina are still to go into the primaries, said Levine.
Levine believed it difficult that an overwhelming majority of the super delegates, who come from the Congress and Senate, vote in favour of Clinton at the national convention.
“No super delegate can afford to vote against the endorsement of the party supporters,” said the ex- Congressman.
And no defection of any elected delegate from the primary is possible either, he added.

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