Sun | Apr 22, 2018

100m winner might hold clue to US presidency - US VOTES Bolt to the finish

Published:Sunday | November 4, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Usain Bolt

Romney, Obama look for edge at campaign's end

The clue to whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney will win the presidential battle come Tuesday may rest with the holder of the 100-metre sprint title.

Historically, the United States dominated the event. But since 1976, when Hasely Crawford of Trinidad and Tobago became the first Caribbean sprinter to take home a gold medal, there has been a rivalry between American and Caribbean athletes.

American writer Edward McClelland recently did the checks and noted that in every year an American has won the Olympics 100 metres men's gold medal, a Republican has won that fall's presidential race.

In every year a runner born in the Caribbean has won, a Democrat has become president.

Jamaica's Usain Bolt is now the undisputed champion of the sprints and his victory in 2008 coincided with Obama's victory.

This matrix seems not to have been lost on the US president, as two months ago he warned supporters that the race to re-election was not similar to a Bolt contest.

"I just want to remind you this is not going to be a race like Usain Bolt where we're like 40 yards ahead and we can just start jogging 10 feet before the finish line," Obama said of the Jamaican gold medallist known as the fastest man in the world. "We're going to have to run through the tape."

Then, the president was playing host to 100 donors to his re-election campaign who paid US$40,000 apiece to attend.

Yesterday, Romney opened a three-state campaign day in New Hampshire by faulting Obama for telling supporters a day earlier that voting would be their "best revenge".

"Vote for revenge?" the GOP candidate asked, oozing incredulity.

"I'd like to tell him what I'd tell you: Vote for love of country. It's time to lead America to a better place."

The GOP nominee released a TV ad carrying the same message.

Obama tended to presidential business before politics as he led a briefing at the government's disaster-relief agency on the federal response to Superstorm Sandy. He said the recovery effort still has a long way to go, but pledged a "120 per cent effort" by all those involved.

Then he began his own three-state campaign day in Ohio, the biggest battleground of Campaign 2012.

After holding mostly small and mid-size rallies for much of the campaign, Obama's team is planning a series of larger events this weekend aimed at drawing big crowds in battleground states.

no massive audiences

Still, the campaign isn't expecting to draw the massive audiences Obama had in the closing days of the 2008 race, when his rallies drew more than 50,000.

Obama's closing weekend also includes two joint events with former President Bill Clinton: a rally last night in Virginia and an event today in New Hampshire.

The two presidents had planned to campaign together across three states earlier this week, but that trip was called off because of Sandy. And, of course, there is always Ohio.

In a whiff of 2008 nostalgia, some of Obama's travelling companions from his campaign four years ago were planning to join him on the road for the final days of his last campaign.

Among them are Robert Gibbs, who served as Obama's first White House press secretary, and Reggie Love, Obama's former personal aide who left the White House earlier this year.

Likewise, virtually Romney's entire senior team has left the campaign's Boston headquarters to travel with Romney for the contest's final three days. Most connected with Romney at an early morning event in New Hampshire yesterday.

Their presence for the campaign's waning hours is an admission that the strategy and planning is largely complete. His schedule has been set, the ads have been placed, and Romney's message has been decided.

The tight inner circle that has worked with him for several years in most cases plans to enjoy the final moments on the campaign trail at Romney's side.

Romney hosted a massive rally last Friday night in West Chester, Ohio, drawing more than 10,000 people to the Cincinnati area for an event that featured rock stars, sports celebrities and dozens of Republican officials. It was a high-energy event on a cold night designed to kick off his own sprint to the finish.

Romney arrived in New Hampshire close to midnight last Friday after an 18-hour day on the campaign trail that took him from Virginia to Wisconsin to Ohio.

After his morning rally on the New Hampshire seacoast, he was making an afternoon appearance in Iowa, and two more in Colorado.

He shifted an original plan to campaign in Nevada today in favour of a schedule likely to bring him back to Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Yesterday, Obama's first stop was in Mentor, Ohio, then he was campaigning in Milwaukee and Dubuque, Iowa, and ending the day in Bristow, Virginia.

Today, he is taking his campaign to New Hampshire, Florida, Colorado and, yes, Ohio.

Polling shows the race remains a toss-up heading into the final days. But Romney still has the tougher path; he must win more of the nine most-contested states to reach 270 electoral votes: Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, Nevada, Wisconsin, Iowa and New Hampshire.

seeking to end democrat streak

Romney has added Pennsylvania to the mix, hoping to end a streak of five presidential contests where the Democratic candidate prevailed in the state.

Obama won Pennsylvania by more than 10 percentage points in 2008; the latest polls in the state give him a four- to five-point margin.

Romney will campaign in the Philadelphia suburbs today.

Obama aides scoff at the Romney incursion, but they are carefully adding television spending in the state and are sending Clinton to campaign there tomorrow.

-Associated Press Contributed to this story   

100-metre winner: Hasely Crawford, Trinidad and Tobago

Presidential winner: Jimmy Carter, Democrat


N/A: US boycotted the Olympics


100-metre winner: Carl Lewis, United States

Presidential winner: Ronald Reagan, Republican


100-metre winner: Carl Lewis, United States

Presidential winner: George Bush, Republican


100-metre winner: Linford Christie, Great Britain (born in Jamaica)

Presidential winner: Bill Clinton, Democrat


100-metre winner: Donovan Bailey, Canada (born in Jamaica)

Presidential winner: Bill Clinton, Democrat


100-metre winner: Maurice Greene, United States

Presidential winner: George W. Bush, Republican


100-metre winner: Justin Gatlin, United States

Presidential winner: George W. Bush, Republican


100-metre winner: Usain Bolt, Jamaica

Presidential winner: Barack Obama, Democrat


100-metre winner: Usain Bolt, Jamaica

Presidential winner: To be decided