Super Tuesday: it’s the day when more US states hold their Republican and Democratic primaries and caucuses than any other. Thirteen states and one territory (American Samoa) will vote and by the day’s end we will have a clearer picture of who will be the parties’ presidential nominees. Super Tuesday as we know it began in 1988 when a confederation of 12 Southern states sought to increase their influence in the Democratic nomination process by all holding their primaries on the same day. The parties saw the advantage of weaning out the weak contenders early in the nomination contest and the event has now become a much-anticipated fixture of the US presidential cycle.

Hillary Clinton leads her rival Bernie Sanders by a significant margin in the Democratic contest but all eyes are on the Republican race where, in a scenario that was unfathomable to many this time last year, Donald Trump has a healthy lead over competitors Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Trump’s position is so strong that Clinton supporters have already started drawing up copy for a sustained attack on The Donald should he emerge as the Republican candidate for the presidency. As tensions mount on the road to the White House we look back at Monocle’s coverage of the 2008 presidential election cycle and the opinions of the journalists who reported on it.

December 2008 / January 2009

thumbnail text

Corine Lesnes

Washington correspondent for ‘Le Monde’, France

Did the best man win?
Oh sure!

What was your headline and gist of your editorial the day after the election?
The headline was “Yes we did”. We wrote about how Barack Obama is the best person for this moment and that America is on the brink of a revolution. I wrote about how Obama mixed the historical with the everyday and about the coordination of the family. He made no mistakes in his campaign.

How hard is it to sum up a year’s worth of political campaigning in one story the next day?
The convention was historic. The nomination was historic. How many times can you say that? But after hearing Obama’s speech, I knew exactly what I had to say. Obama kept restraint. He was presidential. His speech was powerful, not over-joyful.

What issues will your readers want to see addressed speedily by President Obama?
The economy. France’s involvement in Afghanistan. The UN.

How long do you give the new president’s media honeymoon?
Until the Iranian elections in June 2009.

Roselena Ramírez

Washington DC bureau chief for TeleSUR, Venezuela

Did the best man win?
Absolutely. I think he is a man with an open mind and that is something the country needs. He has seen poverty and realises that the world is not just America and its supremacy.

What issues will your viewers want to see addressed speedily by President Obama?
Probably oil. The big issue here was thatHugo Chávez never wanted to talk to the Bush administration, but he promised that when a new administration came to the White House he would open his doors.

How long do you give the new president’s media honeymoon?
At least one year. This is the first African-American president and that will be so new for the media.

Klaus Brinkbäumer

Foreign correspondent for ‘Der Spiegel’, Germany

Did the best man win?
Definitely. He was better than John McCain. We did an interview with McCain and he seemed really talented and knowledgeable; he knew so much about international politics. But I think he lost his way. In comparison, Obama stayed with his vision and was much better prepared.

What was the gist of your editorial the morning after the election?
I’m still writing our cover story on Obama but the focus will be on whether Obama can fulfil all the expectations. Expectations in Europe are huge, especially in Germany. So now of course, the question for a political news magazine is what can he actually change?

What, in your view, were the high and low points of the campaign?
I think there were mostly high points. Obama reacted perfectly to whatever he had to react to, for instance, when he gave the speech on race in Philadelphia. It was a critical moment after what happened with Jeremiah Wright. It was a huge risk, too, because until then they’d avoided the topic of race. I think you can talk about good decisions from beginning to end.

Armando Guzmán

Washington bureau chief for TV Azteca, Mexico

Did the best man win?
I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade, but I think McCain has a lot more experience of dealing with issues regarding Mexico and immigration, but 67 per cent of the Latin vote went to Obama.

How hard is it to sum up a year’s worth of political campaigning in one story the next day?
We concentrated on how McCain didn’t capture more of the Latino vote.

What were the high and low points of the campaign?
High: economy. Low: the racial undertone. And Sarah Palin.

What issues will your readers/viewers want to see addressed speedily by Obama? The economy. The war on drugs. Immigration.

Aya Igarashi

Washington correspondent for ‘The Yomiuri Shimbun’, Japan

Did the best man win?
We don’t know yet. I think Obama is a very skilled politician. He’s not just a rock star; he has substance.

What was your headline and the gist of your editorial the day after the election?
The morning edition’s main headline was “Change has come”. We had so many stories and covered it very intensely, so we introduced what he said in his victory speech and also talked a little bit about challenges he would face, including the economy as well as foreign affairs, especially North Korea and the Asian issues that we’re very much interested in.

What were the high and low points of the campaign?
I was very much impressed by how he prepared for the Iowa caucus. That’s the moment when I seriously started to think that maybe the next president would be Obama. The low point was when he mentioned religious people clinging to small-town values. Right after that I visited small towns in Pennsylvania and so many white people were really furious with him. At that point I thought that the race issue and the elitism criticism would really drag him down.

Li Xuejiang

Washington bureau chief at ‘People’s Daily’, China

Did the best man win?
Yes. Obama is the right guy.

What was your headline and the gist of your editorial the morning after the election?
We said, “Obama turns a page in US history.” I wrote about this historical event but also that Obama has serious challenges: the bail-out plan, the budget deficit and North Korea, Iran and the Palestine/Israel peace agreement. And Russia. It’s not going to be easy!

What issues will your readers want to see addressed speedily by Obama? People recognise that the financial crisis is the immediate challenge. But young Chinese people supported Obama; 70 per cent have a good opinion of the new president.

Abderrahim Foukara

New York and Washington bureau chief for Al Jazeera, Qatar

Did the best man win?
Yes.

What was the gist of your broadcast the morning after the election?
The line we took was: “Obama sweeps to victory”. Obama came from nowhere to beat someone white, rich and powerful who has been in the political game for a long time. What happened is probably going to be the answer to American public diplomacy problems for a long time to come. In one sweep, Obama projected a completely different image of America. It’s an extraordinary statement on how America reinvents itself and corrects its past at a historic moment.

How hard is it to sum up a year’s worth of political campaigning in one story the next day?
When Obama stood on the podium to accept his victory, all of a sudden the focus was no longer on the past; the focus was the future.

How long do you give the new president’s media honeymoon?
About a year. Which is probably longer than you would give any new president.

What were the high and low points of the campaign?
High: when it was announced how much money Obama had raised. The way he raised the funds was totally unprecedented. Low: the moment when the discourse tried to link him to terrorism.

×The Weekend Edition

0:00:000:01:00

Drag me