Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

BUSINESS DAILY

Davos 2017: Hard Brexit 'a double-edged sword for Ireland'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French papers: A small slap for Valls, a major PR blow for his campaign

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Theresa May: 'It's my way or the highway'

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Nigerian air force mistakenly bombs refugee camp, at least 50 dead

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Brexit Means Hard Brexit

Read more

THE DEBATE

Hard Brexit, here we come: UK to leave EU common market (part 1)

Read more

THE DEBATE

Hard Brexit, here we come: The blowback against globalisation (part 2)

Read more

ENCORE!

Art on the wire and online: Jean-Hubert Martin on curating in cyberspace

Read more

FOCUS

Inside China's answer to Silicon Valley

Read more

REPORTERS

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. And you can watch it online as early as Friday.

Latest update : 2012-09-03

The Obama Express

Four years ago, a young senator named Barack Obama left Chicago for the White House. Today, with the presidential campaign in full swing, France 24 decided to follow in his tracks. Our reporters travelled 1,230 kilometres by train from Chicago to Washington to find out what it will take for the Democrats to win the American vote again.

Our report began at the home of the "Obama 2012" campaign: the president’s own hometown of Chicago. From there, our train, the Capitol Limited, took us on a journey through the crucial swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania before dropping us off in the nation’s capital, Washington, DC. Along the way, we encountered supporters, organisers and volunteers as they met with voters questioning whether they made the right decision when they cast ballots for Obama four years ago.

For the campaign, undecided voters are key, and they can be reached in many ways. Campaign volunteer Ken Johnson showed us how it’s done on a sweltering day in an African-American neighbourhood in Cleveland. “It’s about door by door, block by block, neighbourhood by neighbourhood,” Ken told us. Brianna Brown, another volunteer, decided to spend her entire summer in the swing state of Ohio. "If you win Ohio, you can win the election", she explains.

That can be said about many of the battleground states, including Florida, Iowa, Virginia and Pennsylvania, where both the Romney and Obama campaigns have set their sights.

In Pittsburgh, we met the Walton family and their friends before the president took to the stage during one of his campaign stops. All of them voted for Obama in 2008. Their allegiance won’t change, but there are some doubts and niggling disappointments. “I thought it would be wonderful if he could change everything in three and a half years, but realistically I knew that was probably not going to happen," Gary Walton told us.

Obama’s campaign strategists know that waning support, or just a slight lack of enthusiasm, means thousands of lost votes. And so the campaign intensifies: the president regularly leaves the White House, for a day or two at a time, to make his case for another four years.

The campaign volunteers pave the way, but all the volunteers in the world cannot beat enemy number one. We encountered it all along our journey, from the rust belt to the mining heartland to the farmlands. That enemy is unemployment, along with the devastating impact it could have come voting day. Since Franklin D. Roosevelt, no US president has won re-election with unemployment over 7.4 percent. The jobless rate currently stands at 8.3 percent.

It may all be a matter of persuasion, but the Republicans are counting on unemployment in Ohio and elsewhere to be what gets Obama out of the White House.

By Stanislas DE SAINT HIPPOLYTE , Philip CROWTHER

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2017-01-13 USA

Video: Meeting Trump voters in Wisconsin

On January 20, Donald Trump will be sworn in as 45th president of the United States. With his promise of radical change in American politics, he won several states that until...

Read more

2017-01-05 Africa

Dadaab: Growing up in the world’s largest refugee camp

Located in eastern Kenya, near the Somali border, is Dadaab. This sprawling refugee camp is home to some 280,000 people, most of them from Somalia. Over the past 25 years, a...

Read more

2016-12-26 Middle East

Exclusive: Embedded with Iraqi special forces in Mosul

For more than two months, Iraqi forces have fought to retake Mosul from Islamic State group militants. A quarter of the city has been recaptured but the jihadists are still...

Read more

2016-12-23 migrants

Ferrette: The French village giving hope to migrants

It’s been almost a year since Ferrette, a tiny village in France’s Alsace region, transformed one of its old army barracks into a reception centre for refugees seeking asylum....

Read more

2016-12-15 Asia-pacific

Video: The Philippines’ ruthless war on drugs

Since Rodrigo Duterte took office in the Philippines in June, rarely does a night go by without dozens of bullet-riddled bodies being discovered in the streets of Manila. The new...

Read more