U.S. Election: Iraq's View

In Baghdad, those who are following the U.S. primary campaign seem to focus primarily on the Democrats. In a small, unscientific sampling of opinion, no one mentioned Sen. John McCain. One resident praised Sen. Hillary Clinton for her Iraq reconstruction plans and "a good background from former President Clinton." Another likes Sen. Barack Obama because "he has good ideas and his political views are different from Bush's."

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DINA TEMPLE: This is Dina Temple-Raston in Baghdad.

The outcome of the U.S. elections could matter a great deal to Iraqis. But most are too consumed by the challenges of day-to-day living to spend much time thinking about U.S. politics.

(SOUNDBITE OF PASSING VEHICLE)

TEMPLE: Here in the Central Baghdad neighborhood of Karata, car bombings and kidnappings are again on the rise. This follows years of insecurity that have caused many shop owners to shutter their businesses. But Zahid Masjid al- Baghdadi(ph) decided to stay. The grizzled 55-year-old sits behind a glass counter filled with cell-phone accessories. He's focused on the Democrats, though he's hard-pressed to come up with their names.

TEMPLE: (Through translator) I know there is a younger black man. I don't know his name. Also, the other woman - I don't know her name.

TEMPLE: Basma Kareem(ph) is a 45-year-old owner of a medicinal herb shop in the district. She doesn't think the U.S. election will have much effect on Iraq.

TEMPLE: (Through translator) Anyone who becomes the next U.S. president won't look after our country's interests. They will be the same as the former U.S. presidents.

TEMPLE: Iraqis around Baghdad who are following the U.S. horse race and can actually name the candidates seem to focus on the Democrats. No one mentioned the presumptive Republican nominee, Senator John McCain. Appliance salesman Ali Abu Hussein(ph) is a Hillary Clinton supporter.

TEMPLE: (Through translator) Well, I prefer Hillary Clinton. She has plans for Iraqi reconstruction - our economy - and the withdrawal of U.S. troops after the security situation here improves. And, of course, she has good background from former U.S. President Clinton.

TEMPLE: Yasser Mohammed(ph), a 31-year-old Baghdad furniture salesman, considers himself an Obama man.

TEMPLE: (Through translator) I have been following all the news on television. I think Obama has a good reputation. He has good ideas and projects, and his political views are different from Bush's.

TEMPLE: Then again, says Mohammed, Obama may be just spouting promises that he won't keep.

Dina Temple-Raston, NPR News, Baghdad.

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