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London's Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson Endorses Obama

JILL LAWLESS | October 21, 2008 01:34 PM EST | AP

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In this file photo dated Oct. 16, 2008, Mayor of London Boris Johnson, center, gestures on stage during a ceremony for British Olympians and Paralympians from the Beijing 2008 team in Trafalgar Square, London. Johnson, a member of the center-right Conservative Party, was quoted saying in a newspaper on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008, that Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama "visibly incarnates change and hope, at a time when America desperately needs both." (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

LONDON — The mayor of London, a member of the British political party that is a traditional ally of U.S. Republicans, says Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama "visibly incarnates change and hope, at a time when America desperately needs both."

In an article for Tuesday's edition of The Daily Telegraph newspaper, London Mayor Boris Johnson of the center-right Conservative Party was blunt in his assessment of President Bush's legacy and how an Obama presidency would break from it.

Johnson's endorsement of the Democratic candidate came after McCain declared in a radio address Saturday that "socialist leaders" in Europe admire Obama. The Republican candidate has likened Obama's tax policies to socialism.

Criticizing the Bush administration, Johnson called the invasion of Iraq "catastrophic" and said the economic crisis had forced the U.S. government into a "humiliating resort to semi-socialist solutions."

"Democracy and capitalism are the two great pillars of the American idea," he wrote. "To have rocked one of those pillars may be regarded as a misfortune. To have damaged the reputation of both, at home and abroad, is a pretty stunning achievement for an American president. "

Johnson said that only a clean break in the form of an Obama victory would help the U.S. recover in the eyes of the world.

"Obama deserves to win because he seems talented, compassionate, and because he offers the hope of rejuvenating the greatest country on Earth in the eyes of the rest of us," Johnson wrote.

"If Obama wins, he will have established that being black is as relevant to your ability to do a hard job as being left-handed or ginger-haired, and he will have re-established America's claim to be the last, best hope of Earth," he added.

British politicians usually refrain from expressing views on U.S. elections. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has largely batted away questions about the presidential race, saying it is a matter for the U.S. people to decide.

Johnson is known for his free speaking, and has strong U.S. ties. Although the Oxford University classics graduate appears the embodiment of upper-class English eccentricity, he was born in New York and for years held dual U.S.-British nationality.

In 2006 he wrote an article saying he was renouncing his American citizenship after a run-in with "idiotic and aggressive" U.S. immigration staff.

Filed by Dan Duray  |  Report Corrections