'Subtle endorsements' as world leaders weigh in on Mitt Romney and President Obama

Published: Friday, July 27 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

This combination of 2012 file photos shows U.S. President Barack Obama, left, and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Boulder, Colo. and Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Associated Press

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As Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama battle for a foothold with American voters, some foreign leaders have weighed in on the election, commenting on the candidates and giving what the press calls, "subtle endorsements," while other leaders have been more candid.

In a March visit to the U.S., British Prime Minister David Cameron went to a basketball game in swing-state Ohio with President Obama rather than meeting with any Republican leaders. A Romney team member called the move "unprecedented."

Cameron's visit to the U.S. and a subsequent speech praising Obama could be seen as an endorsement of the president, a Telegraph article suggested in March.

"The president says what he will do and he sticks to it," Cameron said during a toast to Obama. "Yes, America must do the right thing but to provide moral leadership America must do it in the right way too. The first president I studied in school was Theodore Roosevelt. He talked of speaking softly and carrying a big stick. That is Barack's approach, and in following it he has pressed the rest button on the moral authority of the entire free world."

Downing Street aides said after the speech that Cameron was "politically neutral" and had not endorsed Obama.

"Our head is with Romney, but our heart is with Obama," The Huffington Post quoted a senior Tory leader as saying after Romney's visit to London. "Romney would be a fantastic CEO president but in our hearts there's connection that we all have with Obama."

In March, Foreign Policy reported on France's then-president Nicholas Sarkozy's remarks during a speech, calling them a "subtle endorsement" of Obama.

"There is also a presidential election in the United States," Sarkozy said, discussing the U.S. role in the Mideast peace process. "President Obama, who is a very great president, won't take the initiative before he's reelected — and I hope he will be — but there's a place for France and a place for Europe."

Sarkozy lost his bid for reelection in May as the nation voted for Socialist Francois Hollande in his place.

At a rally in Venezuela last Sunday, President Hugo Chavez called Romney the "far-right candidate of North America," citing Romney's support for capitalism and tying that support to Chavez's rival Henrique Capriles, who Chavez says wants to "subjugate Venezuela again to the service of imperialism, of capitalism."

"I believe the person to best explain the loser's agenda isn't Barack Obama but rather Romney, because it's the extreme right-wing agenda that borders on the fascism of the United States," Chavez said Monday, again comparing Capriles to Romney. Obama, he said, is "a good guy."

Mariela Castro, niece of Fidel Castro and daughter of Cuba's President Raul Castro, came to the U.S. after the State Department granted her and two government officials visas to visit the country. During the visit she voiced her opinion on which of the candidates she preferred, coming down on the side of Obama.

"As a citizen of the world, I would like him to win," Castro said during a CNN interview. "Seeing the candidates, I prefer Obama."

With Obama in charge, Castro said, the U.S. and Cuba could "normalize our relationship and have better relations than what we had under President Carter."

In July, Alexey Pushkov, chairman of the international affairs committee of the State Duma of Russia, said his country doesn't think Romney would be an easy partner to work with, and that his administration would be — "on the rhetorical side" — a replay of the Bush administration.

Obama, on the other hand, is an "acceptable" partner for Russia, Pushkov said.

Although not endorsing Obama, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad criticized Romney for visiting Israel, saying he was "kissing the foot" of the Jewish state in order to "get some pennies for (his) campaign."

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