The Race for the White House, As Seen by a Norwegian on the Sidelines

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Hanging out at the Rubio S.C. primary with  from

“Y” I Want to Take Part

For most of my life, I have been interested in politics (one of the many reasons I joined the Foreign Service). I also understood early on the importance of democracy as the basis for economic and social development. My first memory of American politics goes all the way back to 1963, on the sad day when President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

Since then, I’ve stayed current on American politics and my fascination has only grown. From 2001 to 2008, I had the pleasure of being responsible for Norwegian–U.S. political relations in the Foreign Ministry. Now, thanks to the privilege of serving as the Norwegian ambassador to the U.S., I have the great opportunity to observe firsthand the 2016 American presidential race.

This brought me to the GOP primary in South Carolina last weekend.

Heading South

I arrived in Charleston, S.C. early on Friday morning and headed straight from the airport to Sen. Ted Cruz’s rally downtown. There, the Texas presidential candidate touched on a wide range of topics from defense to jobs.

Next up was a rally for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who focused much of his time on stage discussing the importance of revitalizing the American Dream.

Then in the evening, I visited businessman Donald Trump’s rally. There was a huge crowd gathered to hear Trump speak of his desire to strengthen American politics, both foreign and domestic.

The next day, I travelled to Colombia, where I attended primary night with Rubio. I really enjoyed being in the middle of the campaign action and experiencing firsthand the votes being counted and announced. 

All four events demonstrated impressive levels of public participation and enthusiasm. The atmosphere was good and it was a fun experience.

The primary process is a uniquely American experience. The candidates are scrutinized and vetted in a way that’s just not possible in a much briefer general election. Many voters even meet, or at least see in person, their next president. At its best, the U.S. election process inspires everyone to dream big and reminds us of the most admired American virtues!

“Y” I Went

Attending these types of events is a great opportunity to meet with campaign managers and staffers, reach out to people, connect, and build networks. This is important because it brings us closer to American society and because it’s a great tool in promoting and strengthening Norwegian-American interests.

Back home in Norway, there is strong interest in the primaries, and Norwegians are quite knowledgeable about the various candidates and their positions on issues. Reporters for most of the major Norwegian media outlets file daily reports from the primaries. I met some of them during my visit to South Carolina. We at the Embassy also convey our views and assessments to the Norwegian Government.

“Y” This Interest?

The United States is Norway’s strongest ally. We are both founding members of NATO. The transatlantic relationship is the backbone of our security and defense. The U.S. is our second largest trading partner, and we are working closely on climate issues; the Arctic; the global development agenda, including health and education; and the peace process in Colombia and other areas of conflict – just to highlight a few examples. In addition, I have to mention the more than 5 million Norwegian Americans living in the U.S.

So, who succeeds President Obama is of importance to Norway – with emphasis on the who and not necessarily the party affiliation.  It is a main objective of the Norwegian government to further strengthen our close relationship with the United States, and for that to happen we must continue to engage with the next president and the next administration. 

What’s Next?

After a short visit from our Oil and Energy Minister and Foreign Minister this week, I will be going back to South Carolina this weekend to participate in the Democratic Party’s primary. I’m sure it will be just as exciting as the Republican ones. Then, on March 1, I hope to be able to attend one of the big rallies on Super Tuesday. Where to go, I will decide a bit later. But, if you have a suggestion, please share!

-K.R.A.

11 thoughts on “The Race for the White House, As Seen by a Norwegian on the Sidelines

  1. I believe Norway should hurry up and award a Nobel Prize to whomever it wants to be President like it did with Obama. Not ever having done a thing before or during his Presidency to warrant such an honor should do nothing to cheapen it if Norway wants Bernie Sanders as President, who has said such wonderful things about the Scandinavian “model”. We of course, appreciate Norway’s blatant interference in our political process, such as it is, and welcome the infinite wisdom of the nominating committee. I’m sure Bernie will warrant the Peace Prize by pulling out of the Middle East, and surrendering to Russia and China, so that should be in keeping with Norwegian goals and National policy.

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    1. Don’t be too hard on the Norwegians. Obama had only to fool three of them to win the Nobel. He fooled 69,498,516 Americans

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  2. Oh, dear….Hal must be an American. Bernie Sanders openly admires Denmark, not Norway. Bernie is Democratic socialist, which is the wrong name for the social Democratic tradition in Nordic countries.

    And don’t Americans move on from simply interfering with foreign political processes. We go directly to military invasions, assassination, and Regime Change.

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  3. So, after reading the previous comments, are there any positive comments to be made? No specific endorsements were made nor was the state of the union addressed. What say you about current policies that will have worldwide effects?

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  4. Norway, how are things going with your fine law abiding assimilated and fully integrated into Norway culture, government, values, morals, peace loving and grateful to be in your wonderful Country Muslum population?
    Not so well I understand.
    Wake up Norway!
    Stop being so soft and utterly cluless and unaware of how Muslims see you and think of you as the weak People you appear to them. You are Infidels and easy prey for Jihadists for God’s Sake! You are soft targets who will stand by in denial that Sharia Law is practiced under your noses in your own damn Country! Are you so immersed in appeasing and capitulation with these Radical mass murderers that you will stand by while they destroy your once great Country?
    Norway, the birthplace of my Mother, I beg of you, take back your Country now!
    Before it is too late.

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    1. OMG. How racist can you be? I am of Norwegian decent, as well. You should be ashamed of denigrating a country who has assimilated many ethnic and religious groups. I love Norway and always will. Please consider that while your opinions are your own, they do not reflect the opinions of a Granddaughter and Daughter of Norwegians. Blessings to you, as you consider your choices in life.

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      1. I need no lecture from you and yes, that is my opinion I am entitled to just as you are. Racist. The magic word thrown out so casually and predictably by many when they have no defense for the indefensible. It’s as if I insulted you personally. Truly amazing how you missed my point entirrly and took the cowardly way out by claiming racism. My comments are directed to the People of Norway who are realists and far less naive than you appear to be. To those legions of the wonderful People of Norway who possess common sense and trust what they see and hear more than they care about political correctness, protect and preserve your Country and culture before it is taken from you.
        Islamist extremists walk among you yet despise all that you stand for as it is in my Country of America. They have no religion except jihad and dealth wishes to the infidels. They are a cult of such magnitute and murderess intent our World has never seen before. Be wary Norway. Be vigilant Norway. Take your Country back now, before it’s too late.

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    1. Condemnation and name calling, not a reasoned rebuttel or discussion is your response. How utterly predictable. Why bother then to respond if that is the depth and reach of your mental capacities? You are closed minded to debate and challenge to your liberal sensibilities. You dismiss my desire to present my viewpoint as having no validity compared to yours. Your response indicates to me that you are devoid of original thought and that like so many take the cowardly and easy way out by calling me names like a child does when they do not yet have the mental capacity to respond intelligently.
      I wanted to provoke thoughtful, intelligent debate and response from my comments. I hoped for someone to present an original viewpoint of their own and tell me why they disagree with my stance. I welcomed someone to tell me why I am wrong or perhaps present a strong and reasoned case against my position.
      Instead, I got you.
      All emotion and no apparent ability to debunk my position, even when I left myself wide open to hearing opposing viwpoints and yes, some measure of agreement regarding the problems facing Norway today.

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      1. The absurdity of your comments warrant only a warning to others. More time and effort to engage would be only tossing “pearls before swine”.

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      2. How poetic. Bravo, such a clever and original response. I am awestruck and impressed with your effort to engage in this discussion that never was. You possess depth of character and intelligence that could fill a thimble to the brim.
        It’s been enlightening for me in this exchange between us. You have succeeded in confirming that our world is filled with mindless, gutless and weak people led by their nose to the slaughter.
        Even sheep stray from the flock from time to time to seek independence. In another life you would be a parrot, repeating word for word everything your master speaks.
        You boor me to no end. I bid you farewell.

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