MADELEINE BRAND, host:
It's not only in this country that people are fascinated with the presidential race. Polls show that there is unprecedented interest in this election by people around the world. James Dickmeyer is director of the Foreign Press Centers. It's part of the State Department's effort to help foreign journalists cover our electoral process, and welcome to the program. This year, you've seen an unprecedented turnout also here from the foreign press corps to cover this story?
Mr. JAMES DICKMEYER (Director, Foreign Press Centers): Absolutely. It's been fascinating. We have existed for many decades, and we help basically the U.S.-based foreign journalists, and we have about 3,500 journalists accredited with us.
They don't have to get credentials with us, so there are probably many more foreign journalists working in the United States. But subsequent - in the last two weeks, we've had an extra almost 500 journalists ask for credentials with us. There are probably many more traveling around the country that aren't even going to be in Washington, and even all those in Washington aren't with a Foreign Press Center credential.
BRAND: And do they come from any particular parts of the world or from all over?
Mr. DICKMEYER: All over. I was just meeting with a friend. I had served at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico. She's here with a group of students and professors. I have just met recently a TV crew from Romania. Another one has come in from Serbia. And, of course, of special note, a number of journalists have come in from Kenya, where there's a very very big interest, obviously, for the roots of the candidate Senator Obama.
BRAND: Well, tell us, what's drawing the other journalists? What is it that they're so fascinated by?
Mr. DICKMEYER: I think it goes back probably to the caucuses in Iowa in January, and it's just grown. Clearly, as the enthusiasm in the United States has grown, I think a lot of them are focusing on the young people so involved, but in general, the U.S. public so involved in these elections and in these campaigns. And I think, in part, it is, the U.S. does remain a certain kind of example in terms of democracy.
BRAND: Well, I mean, is it fair to say that, were Barack Obama not in this race, there wouldn't be as much interest?
Mr. DICKMEYER: I'm not sure. I think, certainly, if the other leading candidate in the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton, had won, she would also be generating a lot of interest. I think it's, at the end of a two-term presidency, you always get an upsurge anyway. But I think you're right. There's no doubt about it. These are historic elections. And for the same reasons that the American public have gotten so engaged in them, probably some of the same reasons are affecting foreign publics.
BRAND: You know, there have been a lot of memorable phrases that have come out during this election. Maverick is one word that we've heard a lot, and what about lipstick on a pig? How do you explain that phrase, which seems particularly American, or lipstick on a pitbull?
Mr. DICKMEYER: What is fascinating is that, both those terms that you brought up, I know of cases where people here that work with me with journalists on a day to day basis have been asked to help. One was working with German press and the term Maverick and how could they, you know, where does that come from and so on. And we actually have a researcher that works here and can go back and find, you know, the roots of these different phrases. Even - I speak Spanish pretty well, and even lipstick on a pig, I wouldn't even try.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. DICKMEYER: So, I don't know how they go about trying to kind of - I think they go through a longer two-paragraph explanation.
BRAND: James Dickmeyer is director of the Foreign Press Centers, it's an agency that helps foreign journalists here in the United States make sense of this election. Thank you very much.
Mr. DICKMEYER: No, thank you.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.