October 06, 2008
Obamamania and McCainiacs in Brazil
Posted by: Chris
The U.S. presidential election isn't just making news headlines here in Brazil; it's producing its own sideline stories. For instance, there were eight "Barack Obamas" on last weekend's municipal election ballot. How's that?
Due to a quirk in Brazilian electoral law, candidates can put any name they want on the ballot, as long as it isn't offensive. At least eight candidates have chosen to be known as "Barack Obama" in the Oct. 5 elections.
The Illinois senator is hugely popular in Brazil. The prospect of a black U.S. president has generated enthusiasm across the country, where more people call themselves black than anywhere except Nigeria.
A variety of Brazilian candidates are hoping they can ride his distant coattails into office.
Claudio Henrique dos Anjos, who's running for mayor of Belford Roxo on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, took the name "Barack Obama de Belford Roxo" and said he's gone from third place in the polls to a tie.
Unfortunately for the Brazilian Obamas, the soaring fortunes of their American namesake didn't exactly rub-off:
At least eight "Barack Obamas" who borrowed the Democratic presidential candidate's name to run in Brazilian local elections lost.
The defeat of the so-called Obamas came in municipal elections on Sunday that selected mayors and council members in more than 5,000 cities across the nation — and saw the ruling Workers Party and allies of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva make gains across the nation.
Claudio Henrique dos Anjos, the Belford Roxo mayoral candidate, swears the name "opened doors" for him, though the official tally shows he did not receive a single vote.
Maybe he should have tried "John McCain." The GOP presidential nominee also has his Brazilian fans, none more rapturous than Maria Gracinda Teixeira de Jesus, who describes the 72-year-old senator as "tasty, loving and romantic."
She should know, the 77-year-old former model had a brief affair with McCain back in 1957 when his ship was stationed in Rio De Janeiro. McCain briefly recounted their torrid romance in his book "Faith of our Fathers," and the Brazilian media tracked her down last month.
Then last week, taking a page out of Sarah Palin's "You Can See Russia From Here" handbook, McCain's top foreign policy adviser, Richard Fontaine, claimed McCain's affair with Gracinda more than a half-century ago was actually evidence of his interest in Latin America:
In fact, I saw, I guess it was last week, that his old girlfriend in Brazil has been found from his early days when he was in the Navy and was interviewed. She's a somewhat older woman now than she was then, but it sorta speaks to the long experience he has had in the region -- in the most positive terms.
By that measure, I should be a leading candidate to be McCain's ambassador to Brazil.
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