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So how did the U.S. presidential election play in Denmark? That was of great interest to several journalists from that country who spent time in central Illinois in September getting to know the midwest to help in their election coverage.
That included Gitte Redder, an exchange student at Bement High School in 1978-79 who has now put together a 25-year career as a journalist.
She was not surprised Barack Obama won his re-election bid.
“Polls here show that more than 80 percent of Danes preferred Obama for president. So had it been up to the Danes it would have been a real landslide victory for Barack Obama,” said Redder.
Fellow Danish journalist Regner Hansen also made the trip to the states earlier this year, and was also not surprised at the outcome.
“Most analysts expected Obama to win by a slight margin – and he did. His vision of the world is more in line with Europe’s – that is why he is heavily favored in Europe,” said Hansen. He also feels the Democratic Party is best positioned to deal with issues important to Europeans, including environmental ones.
“We see it as very important that the U.S. takes upon itself a leading role in slowing climate change. This requires a president that sees this topic as important,” he added.
Redder added that her trip to Illinois showed the state is a microcosm of the U.S.
“There are so many different views and opinions, and we had the chance to meet and talk to citizens in Bement, Springfield and Peoria that mainly vote Republican and then travel to Chicago to interview Democrats in that global multicultural city. Illinois is really divided into two different places and it was an interesting study,” commented Redder.
Hansen also found the trip illuminating.
“It is very useful to be reminded how the thinking, the values, the outlook is from the heartland of America. That is the part that we hear the least of in Denmark,” said the 40-year veteran of journalism.
He added that Danes show great interest in American politics because they “feel aligned with Americans and with American culture. Not only is the U.S. a superpower in political and military terms, it is a potent cultural force.”
Redder also took the time to thank her former exchange student host parents Richard and Bonnie Thomas and the community of Bement for their help in organizing the trip to central Illinois.
“A lot of families in Bement were involved in this project and we were really grateful that they put a big effort into this. For sure the Danish group learned a lot about daily life and challenges in the heartland of Illinois and the U.S.A.”
Now that the election is over, reporters in Denmark can move on to other topics. But Redder already has an eye on 2016.
“Who will run for President for the Republicans in 2016? That’s the question here right now. Maybe you can tell us in central Illinois?” said Redder.