International observers

The U.S. presidential campaign is being followed closely around the globe, often with a sense of excitement about the democratic process -- and admiration, in many places, that a woman and an African American could be vying for the nomination of a major political party. And there appears to be something close to consensus that whoever wins the election, the next occupant of the White House will probably be more amenable to working with international leaders than President Bush has been. Times foreign correspondents assessed the mood in four regions where the U.S. campaign is viewed through decidedly local lenses.

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"McCain has the most impressive biography of anyone running on either side. It might be remarkable for a former first lady or the son of a Kenyan goatherd to become president of the United States, but it would be even more striking -- and a greater testament to character -- if someone who survived 5 1/2 years of torture as a prisoner of war did so."

-- The Spectator, London

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"All the various candidates demonstrate unity in one thing: There are no friends of Russia among them."

-- Izvestia, Moscow

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"The basic mood of this election is clear. There is a mood of change. The nation thirsts for change."

-- Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany

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"The thrilling race in the U.S. primaries suggests an exciting finish that can only produce something better than what we saw over the last eight years. . . . What is most interesting, though, is the meteoric rise of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. Obama has inspired America, and become an example of the American dream. . . . But the fact of the matter is, Obama's positive message lacks substance."

-- Asharq al-Awsat, Saudi Arabia

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