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he American presidential elections are

always a very important topic for the Bra-

zilian news media. After all, the United

States and Brazil have long enjoyed close

cultural, economic and social ties. In

addition, as the largest democracies in

the hemisphere they have shared cultural

and political values, as well as mutual

geopolitical interests in both South

America and the world.

Of course, as is true in many other large countries, only a

small fraction of Brazil’s society is interested in foreign affairs.

And even that demographic’s attention tends to focus on per-

sonalities, rather than the issues and platforms—especially with

candidates as colorful as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The

battle between the first female presidential candidate of a major

U.S. political party and her picturesque adversary has motivated

the Brazilian media to step up their coverage of the American

election as rarely before.

Admittedly, Barack Obama had also been in the spotlight in

2008, both for his strong leadership qualities and the prospect

The U.S. Election




The contest between two colorful personalities has drawn unprecedented attention

and some concern here, but there is little fear of changes in the bilateral agenda.



Carlos Lins da Silva is a Global Fellow at the Woodrow

Wilson International Center for Scholars’ Brazil Institute

in Washington, D.C., and a senior consultant for the São

Paulo Research Foundation of Brazil. He has been deputy

editor-in-chief of the Brazilian daily newspapers

Valor Econômico


Folha de S. Paulo

, and also served as managing editor, U.S. cor-

respondent and ombudsman for the latter.

that he would become the first African American to reach the

U.S. presidency. The empathy between Obama and the Brazilian

public was immediate, and so strong that interest went beyond

those who regularly follow international news. In effect, Obama

became a pop star in Brazil, a reputation he reinforced with sub-

sequent presidential visits here.

Until recently, Brazilian politicians generally assumed that

Republican administrations are better for our national interests

than Democratic ones. Contradictorily, however, in almost every

U.S. election the Democratic candidate is more popular here.

The reason Republicans have been considered preferable

is that they were seen as more committed to free trade than

Democrats. This year, however, Donald Trump has consistently

denounced trade agreements and promised to “put America

first.” As a result, most Brazilians have found no rational reason to

prefer him over Hillary Clinton.

Familiar with the Clintons…

Although no public opinion polls have assessed the support

that the two candidates have among Brazilians, it is a safe bet

that a majority would like to see Clinton elected. Her husband

was hugely popular in Brazil during his years as president and

remains so today. He frequently returns to Brazil for speaking

engagements or for events related to his humanitarian work. And

he has developed a good relationship with two former Brazilian

presidents (Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Luiz Inácio Lula da

Silva), despite the fact that they are political enemies.

When she was first lady, Hillary Clinton made two highly

successful visits to Brazil, and she returned many other times