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Europe

European Press Review: A Bitter Presidential Campaign

European papers on Thursday commented on John Kerry winning the race to become the Democratic Party’s nominee challenging President George W. Bush in this year’s presidential elections.

On its front page Britain’s The Guardian carried a photo of John Kerry accompanied by the short headline "The Candidate." "With John Kerry’s decisive victory on Super Tuesday the stage is now set for a U.S. presidential campaign that will be among the longest and probably the most bitter in recent American history," the paper predicted. "No Democratic candidate has been able to claim his party’s nomination so early," it said, arguing that this gives Kerry "an advantage in consolidating the ranks of the party behind him in good time and planning his campaign." The paper also pointed out that "no Republican president has had so long to prepare the case against his opponent as George W. Bush and his effective dirty-tricks machine."

La Repubblica in Rome welcomed Kerry's victory with the following assessment of the Democratic candidate: "Grey, thin and not too charismatic, but from a very established background : 60-year-old John Kerry represents the desire for normality in a country that has been exhausted by states of emergency." For six years, the paper said, the United States has gone from one shock to the next. By contrast, the paper believed that "Kerry's America doesn’t offer the simple answers of a very simple-minded ideologist, but promises the return to a serious, complex and well-tried professionalism in politics."

While also praising John Kerry’s performance in the primaries, The Financial Times Deutschland predicted that the senator is going to have a hard time winning the elections. The Hamburg-based daily pointed out that even though President Bush’s ratings have gone down in recent opinion polls, he is by no means weakened -- it's just that he still has to launch his own election campaign. The paper also predicted that now he'll be pulling out all the stops and making the most of his position as "war president" and supreme guardian of the United States.

Netherland’s Trouw also speculated on how George W. Bush will react to Kerry’s candidacy, saying that "Bush and his people will do all they can to make use of Kerry’s weaknesses" and predicting that "they will try to turn the presidential elections into a referendum on the war on terrorism." The paper also suggested that the Democratic challenger will try to make clear "how he plans to repair relations with the United Nations and America's European allies." It concluded that "the choice now lies with the Americans -- with the rest of the world closely following their decision."

In France, the Dernieres Nouvelles D’Alsace, however, warned the Europeans to be cautious about getting too involved in the American election campaign. The paper pointed out several traps, such as believing the programs laid out by the candidates. The second would be an outspoken preference for one candidate, the paper argued, even if politicians in European capitals were indeed all hoping that Kerry becomes the next president. Finally, it added, one thing should not be forgotten : "An American president is elected solely to protect American interests."