International reporters cite global interest in presidential race
JANESVILLE As expected, the national media descended on Janesville after its native son was chosen as Mitt Romney’s running mate.
But the number of international calls to The Gazette’s newsroom and residents and the number of foreign journalists who traveled here surprised some.
Mark Yates, an Australian who works for ABC News Australia, said people around the world are interested in American politics because they affect everyone.
“To people in Australia, the UK—everywhere—it (the presidency) is the most powerful job in the world,” Yates said. “Whoever ends up being president will have an awful lot of influence on everybody’s lives, not just the people in America.”
Yates called The Gazette from Washington, DC, hoping to get the name of someone in Washington who knows Paul Ryan. Yates, in turn, was interviewed.
“I personally love American politics, anyway,” Yates said. “It’s a good story to tell. There’s good drama.
“But ultimately, it’s very, very important for the whole world.”
Two reporters for El Mundo, a large Spanish newspaper, agreed.
Maria Ramirez and Eduardo Suarez, married journalists who are stationed in New York, hopped a plane to Janesville after Ryan was nominated and their editors became more interested in this election.
To that point, 2012 had been more tame than 2008, when candidates included the first major party black contender, a woman and a veteran, Suarez said.
The couple recently had written several stories about Romney. They traveled to his church but found Mormonism difficult to explain to their readers.
Ryan is much more interesting, Ramirez said.
He is young, appealing and intelligent, has a beautiful family, and is Catholic, which is of interest to a predominantly Catholic Spain, she said.
Plus, he’s “hot,” Ramirez said.
“We wrote a story (that) he’s kind of hot,” she said. “It was very popular. We ran a lot of his pictures, with the story to prove the point he was kind of hot.
“For us, he made this campaign be interesting suddenly. In the newsrooms, editors are suddenly more interested about him and asking more questions.”
The couple earlier had authored a story highlighting “nasty” comments that Ryan had written about Europeans, including that they are lazy and take too much vacation time.
The story was the most well read on the website that day, eliciting hundreds of comments. Many of the commentators agreed with Ryan, Suarez noted with a smile.
There is no “European Dream” like there is an “American Dream,” he said.
“The thing is, now, everybody is so mad about the economy, about politicians, that someone who says bad things about the European model is better received than in another time,” Ramirez said.
Ryan says the U.S. is turning into Europe, where people have given up their self-reliance to be taken care of by the state, Ramirez said.
The journalists said their Spanish readers love reading about American politics. Politics here are more exciting then back home.
“There are so many characters in American politics,” Ramirez said.
“In general, any election is important for Europe. In the end, the U.S. is the most important country in the world.”
Wednesday, the pair headed to Chicago for an interview with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.