Republicans wasted their advantage with sleaze: Expert

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London, Nov.4 : The Republicans had all the advantages with them to sweep this year's presidential polls in the United States, but wasted it with sleaze, the editor of The Economist, John Micklethwait, claimed.

On Friday, The Economist endorsed Barack Obama. "It's time," runs the leader in the current edition of the magazine that still likes to be known as a "newspaper".

"America should take a chance and make Obama the next leader of the free world," it says. The decision to support the Illinois senator was taken at last Monday's editorial meeting. That meeting followed a conference call between Micklethwait and 15 members of his US based staff, working in offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Washington DC and Texas.

And, it seems that John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate became the deciding factor in the decision.

When Micklethwait visited America for the conventions, The Economist was still running a cover demanding "Bring Back The Real McCain", an acknowledgement of the Arizona senator's links to western Republican traditions and individual freedoms.

Micklethwait, 46, was in the US at the weekend to partake in The Economist's first New York-based festival, moderating a debate yesterday on "The Future of Brand America" at Gotham Hall on Broadway.

One nagging issue over Micklethwait's apparent enthusiasm for Obama is that he, along with fellow Economist journalist Adrian Wooldridge, is the author of The Right Nation, a book that brilliantly identified the innate conservatism in America and called the 2004 election for the Republicans when most commentators believed George W Bush was history.

Micklethwait, then the US editor of The Economist, became an in-demand pundit. Has he now changed his theory?

"We said America was a fundamentally conservative country where Republicans had an edge. I think our response to that would be that Republicans have road-tested that theory to destruction. To be as incompetent and as sleazy as they have been has made it very difficult for any inbuilt advantages they might have in the system to survive," Micklethwait said. The Economist is primarily a business journal, but has a broad readership. Its latest circulation is 1,337,184 (up 6.1 per cent year-on-year).

ANI

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