US ambassador's job on the line
The US ambassador to Australia Jeff Bleich cares more than most about the US election outcome - he's a presidential appointee.PT1M18S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-28xb4 620 349 November 7, 2012
About 300 people have crammed in to the National Press Club in Canberra to watch the United States election results come through from the other side of the world.
The event, hosted by the US embassy, had a party atmosphere for lunch time complete with hot dogs, gumbo, a pretend polling booth, and cardboard cutouts of the candidates for people to have their photo taken with.
And if the photo preferences of the crowd – made up mostly of friends of the US Embassy, diplomats, journalists, military types and political advisers – were anything to go by, Obama was streaks ahead on the popular vote in Canberra.
The (cardboard) candidates were there for photo opportunities. Photo: Graham Tidy
While everyone kept a careful eye on the results streaming in, US ambassador Jeffrey Bleich told the crowd that he was observing proceedings from a different viewpoint.
"Unlike the people in this room, my job is on the line today," Mr Bleich said.
The comment received a laugh from the assembled crowd, despite its serious undertone.
US election fever comes to Canberra
US Ambassador, Jeffrey Bleich arrives. Photo: Graham Tidy
Had Mitt Romney come away with an election win, the usual practice would have seen him, upon taking office, immediately recall so-called "political appointments" - which includes Mr Bleich, who was appointed to the Canberra post by long-time friend Barack Obama in 2009.
Although, rumour is that a returned Obama might have bigger things in store for his ambassador friend.
When the popular “ballot papers” from those inside the press club were counted, Obama won easily with 85 votes, Romney on 19 and Bleich even attracting 14.
Hot dogs on the menu. Photo: Graham Tidy
But it was pointed out that only about half of the people in the room had cast a ballot – pretty similar to the actual turnout in the real US election.
Despite the high stakes for Mr Bleich, he said election day was always very exciting for Americans.
"It is the ultimate symbol of what our founders fought and died for," he said.
He pointed out that governments by the people, for the people have never been a smooth process, as results looked to go down to the wire.
"That process has been as messy and as crazy from the beginning as it is today," he said.
Regardless of the result, Mr Bleich said there would be no tanks in the streets of America, and that everyone would rally behind the winner to keep their country moving ahead.
"That is what America is about," he said.
He also pointed out that, regardless of who wins today, the relationship between the US and Australia would not be diminished, degraded or neglected.