Spin on Iowa a Bit Different Across the Pond

The whole American political landscape is a bit baffling for Europeans, whose election campaigns typically last just a few months.

On the Tuesday of the Iowa Caucus, front pages of some papers in Britain had pictures of or articles about the start of the U.S.'s election marathon, even though the candidates are not household names.

"It's a huge story for us obviously, however remote Iowa might seem to the British public, and what little knowledge they might have of the various candidates. I think everyone is aware that they are vying for the most important job in the world and one which has a direct effect on lives over here," Richard Beeston, foreign editor of the Times of London told Fox News.

At the back of everyone's minds in Britain, the so-called "Special Relationship" between old, transatlantic friends, and how a new president of the United States could affect that. President Obama is seen as friendly enough with British Prime Minister David Cameron, but pundits say that bond is not as close as the ones that existed between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, or Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.

As close as the two countries are, however, there are differences in terms of what they look for in candidates. As Beeston put it, “the concept of an Evangelical right is quite alien to a rather secular European audience that takes things like national health care for granted.

"I think there is a peculiar thing with the British and the Americans, we sort of assume we are all alike because we speak the same language and we have a shared history, but actually, the more you dig into the issues that come up in election campaigns like abortion in America and the role of religion and stuff, you realize how different the societies are actually, and how many things separate rather than unite us," Beeston said.

Europeans were welcoming of Obama even before he was elected. He was given a rock star's reception at a big set-piece speech he gave in Germany in summer 2010.

There was huge enthusiasm on this side of the pond when he was elected. Some of that sheen seems to have worn off.

"He is still obviously a hugely charismatic figure," Beeston explains. "They are impressed by the way he talks and performs as a president. He looks presidential, and in terms of his foreign policy, I think he has been quite popular, pulling troops out of Iraq and getting bin Laden. He has done some things which have registered globally, but I think there is a recognition that he has been a disappointing leader of the free world. He hasn't really got on top of the economic challenges facing America and which have rebounded with global effect," he said.

Bottom line, Beeston said, a president, Democrat or Republican, who could pull America out of its economic woes and help lift the global economy would be popular around the world.