US Campaign Diary

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Fidel Castro isn't so unwell that he can't enjoy the sport that is the US presidential election and there are no prizes for guessing which team he is rooting for. But Barack Obama may not entirely appreciate the tone of Fidel's cheerleading.

The ailing former leader of Cuba predicts in his latest newspaper musings that the Democrat will be denied the votes of millions of Americans because of the "profound racism" that lingers in the US.

Citizens who might normally vote for Mr Obama will not, because they "cannot reconcile themselves to the idea that a black person ... could occupy the White House, which is called just that: white."

He then suggests that it is "a miracle that the Democratic candidate hasn't suffered the same luck as [assassinated leaders] Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and others who harboured dreams of equality and justice." That is one thought Mr Castro might usefully keep to himself.

* There has been some puzzlement that, among all the latest attacks against Barack Obama, almost nothing more has been said about the Rev Jeremiah Wright, his former pastor in Chicago whose fiery words stirred so much criticism during the primaries.

Time magazine has offered one plausible answer: that any return to Mr Wright might elicit questions about Sarah Palin's past religious doings. The Democrats would doubtless dig up that video of a visiting African pastor praying for protection for Mrs Palin from "every form of witchcraft" in her church in Wasilla.

And there is her attendance at the Wasilla Bible Church where the pastor is apparently tied to Jews for Jesus, a group dedicated to converting Jews to Christianity. Not the kind of news to pep up the Jewish vote in Florida.

* Oh Florida, not again. The Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale reports there are more than 30,000 convicted criminals, who should, by state law, have been stripped of their right to vote, but are still on the rolls.

Some are still in prison but many aren't and – surprise – Democrats among them outnumber Republicans by two to one. You can see the scenario where this might matter. Recount! Let's hope not.

Kurt Browning, Florida's secretary of state, not only acknowledges that the report might be accurate but adds: "I'm kind of shocked that it is as low as it is."

How many felons does he think may still be on the rolls when they shouldn't be? "We don't know," he said. Mr Browning blames a shortage of staff and a tidal wave of registrations.

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