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Cablegate: U.S. Elections -- Outreach to Islamic Students

VZCZCXRO0767
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #3479/01 3620622
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 280622Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7514
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 4607
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1820
RUEHDT/AMEMBASSY DILI 0912
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1500
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY 3604
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1364
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 2200
RUEHPT/AMCONSUL PERTH 0505
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 003479

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, EAP/PD
NSC FOR EPHU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINS KPAO ID
SUBJECT: U.S. ELECTIONS -- OUTREACH TO ISLAMIC STUDENTS


JAKARTA 00003479 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) SUMMARY: A group of approximately 45 students
gathered at Pol/C's residence on December 27 for a forum
devoted to the 2008 U.S. elections. Pol/C reviewed the
presidential election process, while U.S. Library of Congress
(LOC) Director discussed Congressional and gubernatorial
races. The students--drawn mostly from Islamic
universities--asked many questions about the process and
policy views of the U.S. candidates. In the mock "Jakarta
primary" ballot, Barack Obama overwhelmingly won on the
Democratic side, while Rudy Giuliani was the GOP pick. END
SUMMARY.

2. (U) On December 27, Mission hosted at San Francisco
House, Pol/C's residence, roughly 45 Indonesian students for
a discussion focused on the U.S. elections in 2008. PAO,
U.S. LOC Director, and several other officers and FSNs
participated in the event, which was also attended by
Indonesian political consultants and professors. The
students--about a third of whom were women--were drawn from:

-- State Islamic University
-- The Islamic Student Organization
-- The Indonesian Association of Islamic Intellectuals
-- The Indonesian Islamic Student Movement (affiliated with
Nahdutal Ulama)
-- Muhammadiyah Youth
-- Muhammadiyah University Student Association
-- Pesantran Students Communication Forum

(Note: Nahdutal Ulama and Muhammadiyah are the largest
Muslim organizations in Indonesia with a combined membership
of about 75 million.)

3. (U) Pol/C kicked off the event with a 20 minute
PowerPoint presentation on the U.S. presidential election.
Pol/C reviewed who was running on the Democratic and
Republican sides. He also reviewed the caucus and primary
schedule with a special focus on the January 3 Iowa caucus
and the January 8 New Hampshire primary. Pol/C also
discussed the political conventions, the general election on
November 4, 2008, and the Electoral College system.

4. (U) U.S. LOC Director then reviewed the upcoming
Congressional and gubernatorial races. He noted the current
composition of the House and the Senate, and how control of
both bodies would be up for grabs in 2008. He discussed the
current leadership of both bodies, and the importance of the
House and the Senate in formulating legislation and policy,
including in the area of international relations.

5. (U) The question-and-answer session was lively, with the
students asking many pointed, well-informed questions.
Students asked about the possibility of the U.S. electing its
first woman president. Another student wondered whether
Barack Obama, an African American, could really win. Pol/C
noted that Senator Obama was doing extremely well in the
polls and was considered a first-tier candidate. A student
asked about the role of the military in politics. LOC
Director noted that the U.S. military was apolitical;
personnel, however, were allowed to vote, which is not the
case in Indonesia.

6. (U) A student asked about the Electoral College and
whether it was undemocratic. LOC Director noted that there
was a healthy debate in the U.S. over the Electoral College,
though there were no serious efforts at this time to change
it. Another student asked whether an independent
candidate--perhaps Mayor Bloomberg of New York--might get
into the race. Pol/C noted that that was possible,
mentioning Ross Perot's campaigns in the 1990's. Students
also wanted to know about the policy views of the candidates,
including re Middle East issues.

7. (U) At the close of the event, a mock "Jakarta primary"
was held with participants marking their favorite candidates
using a sample ballot. On the Democratic side, Barack Obama
overwhelmingly won the straw poll, while Rudy Giuliani won on
the Republican side. (Note: Because he lived in Jakarta as
a boy, Senator Obama is hugely popular in Indonesia.)

JAKARTA 00003479 002.2 OF 002


HUME

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