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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ayalon: Israel indifferent to outcome of US election

Source: The Jerusalem Post
By Jpost Staff and Reuters


Deputy foreign minister stresses Israel will continue to enjoy bipartisan American support irrespective of who wins election. 

Israel is indifferent to the outcome of the US presidential election as the Jewish state will continue to enjoy bipartisan American support irrespective of who wins, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told Israel Radio Tuesday morning.

Responding to whether the government believed that a potentially re-empowered US President Barack Obama would apply pressure on Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians, Ayalon stressed that "Israel does not need any pressure in order to make peace or to reach diplomatic agreements."

Ayalon's comments come as Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney face the verdict of US voters on Tuesday, with polls showing them deadlocked in a race that will be decided in a handful of states where it is extraordinarily close.

At least 120 million Americans are expected to vote on giving Obama a second term or replacing him with Romney. Their decision will set the country's course for four years on spending, taxes, healthcare and foreign policy challenges like the rise of China and Iran's nuclear ambitions.

National opinion polls show Obama and Romney in a virtual dead heat, although the Democratic incumbent has a slight advantage in several vital swing states - most notably Ohio - that could give him the 270 electoral votes he needs to win.

Romney would be the first Mormon president and one of the wealthiest Americans to occupy the White House. Obama, the first black president, is vying to be the first Democrat to win a second term since Bill Clinton in 1996.

Fueled by record spending on negative ads, the battle between the two men was focused primarily on the lagging economic recovery and persistent high unemployment, but at times it turned personal.

Polls will begin to close in Indiana and Kentucky at 6 p.m. EST on Tuesday, with voting ending across the country over the next six hours.

The close presidential race raises fears of a disputed outcome similar to the 2000 election, which was decided by the US Supreme Court. Both campaigns have assembled legal teams to deal with possible voting problems, challenges or recounts.

The balance of power in the US Congress will also be at stake in Senate and House of Representatives races that could impact the outcome of "fiscal cliff" negotiations on spending cuts and tax increases, which kick in at the end of the year unless a deal is reached.

Obama's Democrats are now expected to narrowly hold their Senate majority, while Romney's Republicans are favored to retain House control.



Despite the weak economy, Obama appeared in September to be cruising to a relatively easy win after a strong party convention and a series of stumbles by Romney. But Romney rebounded in the first debate on Oct. 3 in Denver, where his sure-footed criticism of the president and Obama's listless response started a slow rise for Romney in polls. Obama seemed to regain his footing in recent days at the head of federal relief efforts for victims of the storm Sandy.

The presidential contest is now likely to be determined by voter turnout - specifically, what combination of Republicans, Democrats, white, minority, young, old and independent voters shows up at polling stations.

Obama and Romney raced through seven battleground states on the final day of campaigning to hammer home their final themes, urge supporters to get to the polls and woo the last remaining undecided voters.

Candidates target voters in swing states

Obama focused on Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa, the three Midwestern swing states that, barring surprises elsewhere, would give him 270 electoral votes. Romney visited the must-win states of Florida, Virginia and Ohio before finishing in New Hampshire, where he launched his presidential run in June 2011.

After two days of nearly round-the-clock travel, Obama wrapped up his final campaign tour in Des Moines, Iowa, with a speech that hearkened back to his 2008 campaign.

Romney's final day included stops in Florida, Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire. The former governor of Massachusetts ended the day at a raucous "Final Victory" rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, the city where he launched his campaign last year.

The common denominator for both candidates was Ohio, the most critical of the battlegrounds, particularly for Romney. Without the state's 18 electoral votes, the path to victory becomes very narrow for the Republican.

Polls have shown Obama with a small but steady lead in the state for months, sparked in part by his support for a federal bailout of the auto industry, which accounts for one of every eight jobs in Ohio, and by a strong state economy with an unemployment rate lower than the 7.9 percent national rate.

Romney planned to vote at home in Massachusetts on Tuesday morning before a final trip to Ohio and Pennsylvania, a Democratic-leaning state that he has tried to put in play in recent weeks. Obama, who voted in October, will spend the day at his home in Chicago.