Vietnamese in the city where Republican candidate John McCain was held captive during the Vietnam War were tuned to international news channels Wednesday morning to see whether the former pilot once shot down over their city would become the next US president, dpa reported.
Several dozen Vietnamese and over a hundred Americans turned up for an election party hosted by the US Embassy at the Hanoi Hilton - the hotel, that is, not the prison where McCain was held which was mockingly called the same by American prisoners of war.
Many Vietnamese present expressed warm feelings for McCain, due to his efforts to normalize relations between Vietnam and the US in the 1990s. Some were anxious that an Obama presidency might mean protectionist trade measures that would hurt Vietnamese exports to the US, a key element of economic growth here over the past seven years.
"If Obama wins, he will make a policy of protection," said Mai Thuong, a reporter for the Vietnam Army newspaper. "It will affect economic relations between the US and the world."
But most of those in the room, Vietnamese and Americans, supported Obama.
"He's young, he's attractive, persuasive, and I think he gives a new, different image to the US," said Do Hoang An, who works for the Vietnam Competitiveness Initiative, a program funded by the US government aid organization USAID.
"To all of us, even Asians, an African-American president seemed impossible. But like my friends told me, America will surprise you."