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Abroad, fresh image of U.S.

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It is too early to say that "Obama-mania" is sweeping the planet, particularly after the junior senator's second place showing in New Hampshire. The public in Europe and Asia have only recently focused on Mr. Obama, though in Africa he's been news for some time.

But in a world where nearly every poll shows America's image seriously dragging after the Iraq war onset, and scant interest in Republicans, Obama has made a significant splash, especially among the young. In Germany, which still swoons over JFK, he's been called a "black Kennedy" – though as in much of Europe, German opinion is divided between the "experience" brought by Sen. Hillary Clinton, and the "charisma" of the newcomer who won the Iowa caucus.

A straw vote conducted by the Spanish newspaper El Mundo has Senator Clinton edging Obama 51-49. But in a brief survey of five French and Spanish newspapers, columnists don't enthuse over Clinton, as she is not seen as someone fresh and new. Still she is described favorably as determined and as a consensus builder.

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