Race to the White House

Wawasan Open University hosted its first public lecture on 19 February 2008 to give listeners an insight into the mechanics of the United States presidential elections. The talk, by US lobby expert and political science authority Professor Burdett A. “Bird” Loomis from the University of Kansas, was jointly organised with the Embassy of the United States in Malaysia.

Participants register at the counter.

Participants register at the counter.

In his lecture titled “Race to the White House 2008: Candidates and Issues”, Prof Loomis expounded on the nomination campaign being waged and the candidates’ position on issues close to their heart. His talk on the prospects of the Democratic and Republican candidates winning the November presidential elections, and how the outcome will make American history is summarised here.

For Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the early primaries and caucuses had yet to unleash any clear party frontrunner. The Republicans were however quick to unite as seen by early party frontrunner John McCain. Whoever emerges victorious in the Democratic Party will make history as the first African-American or woman to win a major party nomination for the first time.

The Democrats have an advantage in the elections this year due to the poor decisions and legacy of the current White House administration. If Democrats win the presidency, there will be obvious implications in that the U.S. will have its first African-American or woman President. The win will also signal the end of a Republican era in American politics, begun almost 30 years ago with the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan.

Another interesting fact is that a sitting U.S. Senator – either McCain, Clinton or Obama – will win the presidency, becoming only the third Senator to move directly to the White House, the most recent being John F. Kennedy in 1960.

The presidential race this year is the most wide-open in recent history with no incumbent President or Vice President contesting. The candidates in both parties have also waged the most expensive contest in the U.S., and thus the world, given the high levels of spending in American elections.

Prof Loomis speaking about the US Presidential Elections to a 60 strong audience.

Prof Loomis speaking about the US Presidential Elections to a 60 strong audience.

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) Prof Wong Tat Meng poses a question.

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) Prof Wong Tat Meng poses a question.

Prof Loomis responds to questions. At right Dato' Sharom Ahmat.

Prof Loomis responds to questions. At right Dato' Sharom Ahmat.

Prof Wong thanks Dato' Sharom and Prof Loomis.

Prof Wong thanks Dato' Sharom and Prof Loomis.