Election Diary

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The Independent US

Barack Obama may want to give thanks to Good Will and Doodad Pro. Or maybe he won't. Those are the made-up names of two individuals who have been sending money into the Obama campaign without, apparently, wanting their true identity known. Trouble is, they have been a bit too generous.

The Federal Election Commission highlighted those two names to the Obama campaign recently, noting that they had both given far in excess of the allowable $2,300-per-person (£1,300) limit on donations to presidential candidates. Doodad Pro gave more than $17,000 – money that must now be given back to avoid legal trouble.

This is no big deal for a campaign that has raised a staggering $485m so far, mostly from small contributions. But it is raising a red flag over whether the Obama camp has been doing enough to police where the cash is coming from. Another concern is that some of its donors may have been from overseas, and accepting money from foreigners is definitely a no-no.

* If you hadn't already guessed it, Mr Obama is markedly more popular among foreigners than John McCain, at least according to a new Reader's Digest survey of popular sentiment about the US election in 17 different countries. It was taken before the two party conventions and, yes, Mr Obama was preferred by majorities in every country except one – the United States.

The results pretty much echo a similar poll conducted last month by the BBC. According to those latest numbers, Obama would stroll to power if he was seeking election in Taiwan, Brazil, Germany or the Netherlands – all countries where more than 90 per cent of those questioned liked him more than the man with white hair.

The Obama campaign isn't doing much to return the love, however, at least as far is the press corps is concerned. It is the impression of most of the foreign correspondents who have been following this presidential race that the Obama camp is one of the least friendly to foreign reporters of any in recent memory.

*Thanks to the combined efforts of veteran lefties such as Kevin Costner and Oliver Stone, Hollywood's rendering of the 2008 election was threatening to turn into an Obama whitewash. Until now, that is.

This week sees the launch of the first Republican movie of the campaign, An American Carol, which is described as a "conservative comedy" and has been made by David Zucker, creator of The Naked Gun, Airplane, and the catchphrase "don't call me Shirley".

The satirical film follows a fictional journalist closely resembling Michael Moore (he's overweight and bearded), who wakes up one morning and decides to launch a campaign to ban fellow Americans from celebrating the Fourth of July. It stars Jon Voigt, one of Hollywood's noisiest right-wingers, and Paris Hilton, who (ironically) defected from the Republican cause after being criticised in a McCain campaign video.

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