Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
AS A gracious host, United States Ambassador to Jamaica Pamela Bridgewater's diplomatic skills oozed easily to the fore last night as reality hit home with undiplomatic force that the race to the White House would be extremely close.
Bridgewater steered clear of calling the election either way as disappointed guests trickled out of her home without knowing the outcome of the polls.
"The people in the USA have come out in their numbers and they have exercised their democratic rights in the process and I am so pleased that you are here to share it with us," declared Bridgewater.
Asked by The Gleaner what she made of the election, Bridgewater replied; "They (the votes) are up and down, they change and it shows that it's going to be a close poll and we just look for the final results."
Responding to reports of glitches in the electoral process, Bridgewater said it showed that persons were turning out to vote despite existing apathy.
Said Bridgewater: "As a former professor of political science who lamented the fact that traditionally voting in the United States has been lower than in many other democracies around the world, I am happy if that means more people are actually going on to poll."
Many Jamaicans who attended the election watch reception hosted by Bridgewater at her Paddington Terrace residence last night were barely able to contain themselves. Cheers escaped the lips of the attentive guests when the results favoured Barack Obama.
But later, a hush fell over the gathering as the mood changed dramatically when it appeared that the wind of change began to blow in Mitt Romney's direction and tense moments became the order of the night.
Earlier, as the closeness of the election emerged, Deputy Chief of Mission Dr Raymond Brown stressed that an electoral tie was a remote possibility.
A stony silence greeted the projection that the Republican Party would retain control of the House.
Earlier, members of the diplomatic community, who milled about the ambassador's lawn with members of the local political and business interests, kept their cool as their attention focused on the television.
The atmosphere became charged as the realisation of a nail-biting culmination to a frenzied campaign hit home at Bridgewater's residence.
Even before the first set of high-profiled guests arrived at the ambassadorial residence, the plethora of photographs of the two candidates told the story more eloquently than words could, belying the fierce electoral contest between the two men.
In classic diplomatic setting, there were portraits of Obama and Romney with hands placed comfortably around each other's back as they exited an area together, both men smiling with the camera in the war, the contest called politics.