Why Does Germany Favor Obama In Presidential Race?

There is little doubt President Obama would win if the elections were being held in Germany. Analysts here say four out of five Germans prefer the incumbent to his challenger, Mitt Romney. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson speaks to Germans to find what people there are saying about the U.S. election and whether it matters to them.

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SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: I'm Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson in Berlin. There is little doubt President Obama would win if the elections were being held in Germany. Analysts here say four out of five Germans prefer the incumbent to his challenger, Mitt Romney. That's because many here can't relate to Romney's background as a venture capitalist or the Republican platform in general. Most Germans consider a large government providing numerous benefits and vigorous regulatory protections as their birthright. Like many here, Thomas Demel from the rural Sauerland region says he's closely following the presidential race in the German media. He is very critical of Romney.

THOMAS DEMEL: (Speaking foreign language)

NELSON: He describes the Republican candidate as a political novice, unqualified to lead the world's foremost power at home or abroad. That's in stark contrast to how many Germans viewed Obama when he ran against John McCain four years ago.

(APPLAUSE)

NELSON: His near rock-star status was captured in this YouTube video, as Obama took the podium here at a Berlin landmark in July 2008.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED SPEECH)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before.

NELSON: The visit was reminiscent of the one by John F. Kennedy to Berlin in 1963 when he delivered one of the most notable speeches of the Cold War. Josef Braml is an award-winning author and analyst with the German Council on Foreign Relations.

DR JOSEF BRAML: For many Germans, Obama is the new Kennedy. It's not only foreign policy, but it's the fact that there is a young guy who still believes in the good government role.

NELSON: But German sentiment toward Obama has cooled somewhat over the past four years. Some of those interviewed criticized him for failing to deliver a better universal health care plan for Americans or a comprehensive safety net for the middle class during the economic crisis. Others are unhappy that he hasn't ended the war in Afghanistan and failed to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay.

DORIS LEKENIEWERT: (Speaking foreign language)

NELSON: Doris Lekeniewert of Muenster says she's crossing her fingers that Obama will get another chance to show that the Germans' faith in him is not misplaced. Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Berlin.

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