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UK Politics

Tory minister Iain Duncan Smith hits out at 'appalling demonisation' of Mitt Romney in the UK media

In a break from the usual diplomatic conventions Mr Duncan Smith appeared last night to take sides in the US presidential election by making comments on Mitt Romney's business credentials

The Tory cabinet minister, Iain Duncan Smith, has slammed the 'appalling demonisation' of US presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, in the UK media.

In a break from the usual diplomatic conventions, Mr Duncan Smith appeared last night to take sides in the US presidential election by making comments on Mitt Romney's business credentials.

He defended the presidential candidate saying he had been portrayed as 'stupid' by the British media.

Mr Duncan Smith said Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, had run his state 'very well', and had delivered wealth to businesses and citizens.

Duncan Smith also pointed out that under Barack Obama the US deficit had “gone from something like 4-500 billion dollars to three or so trillion dollars”, and suggested the superpower's economy was stagnating.

Although Mr Duncan Smith stressed he did not know Mr Romney personally, and was not necessarily a “fan”, the remarks appeared to risk breaching the convention against ministers taking sides in foreign elections.

“The demonisation of Mitt Romney over here has been appalling really,” the Work and Pensions Secretary told BBC Radio 5 Live's Pienaar's Politics.

“He may have faults. All politicians have faults. But this is a guy who ran a state very well.

“He got their debts and deficit down. He's turned around businesses. Whatever else you may say about him, he is not stupid, and he is made out to be stupid over here.”

He went on: “I think sometimes our reporting ... particularly the print media have tended to convey a very shallow two-dimensional fight.

“The American election has been appallingly reported, I think, in the UK. It has been misrepresented, the whole nature of it.”

Mr Romney was widely mocked in the British press during a visit to London in July of this year.

A series of perceived gaffes during the visit were subsequently exploited by the Obama campaign in order to try to demonstrate Romney's lack of foreign policy  experience.

During the visit he commented that the signs for a successful Olympics were not “encouraging”, prompting a rebuke from David Cameron and Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

He also described “looking out of the backside of 10 Downing Street” and referred to Ed Miliband as “Mr Leader”.

Mr Duncan Smith, who is considered to be among the Cabinet's most pro-America members, emphasised the importance of the American economic recovery to Britain's prospects saying: “The fact that it (the US economy) hasn't bounced back from this recession, arguably for the first time since the war, makes it a very worrying picture indeed - with unemployment really historically very high in the US and really not a lot of serious new economic activity taking place.”

As the race for the White House entered its frenetic final stages today it was too close to call, with Romney and Obama deadlocked.  

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll of likely voters declared the two men caught in a dead heat.

Obama led his rival by a whisker, 48% to 47%—a difference of seven voters among a pool of 1,475 surveyed. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.55 percentage points.

The expected close result hasn't, however, stopped Irish bookmakers Paddy Power from paying out to punters who backed Barack Obama to win the election despite polls still showing a tight race.

The bookmaker risks paying out £400,000 to Obama backers even if Romney wins but a spokeswoman said because the incumbent remains ahead in state polls, they were “sticking their neck out”.

She added: “Romney gave it a good shot and is doing well in the popular vote, but we suspect he's had his moment in the sun and is likely to be remembered more for his legendary gaffes than Presidential potential.

“The overall betting trend has shown one-way traffic for Obama and punters seem to have called it 100% correct.”