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US ambassador welcomes re-election

US Ambassador to New Zealand David Huebner. File photo / NZPA
US Ambassador to New Zealand David Huebner. File photo / NZPA

Barack Obama's re-election has been welcomed by the US ambassador to New Zealand as a celebration of the country's vibrant democracy.

An excited crowd of dozens gathered with Ambassador David Huebner at Wellington's Chicago Bar this afternoon as they waited in anticipation for the results to roll in.

The election party was held in true American style with bar snacks including pizza, hot dogs and mini hamburgers adorned with tiny American flags on toothpicks.

The aptly titled Chicago Bar - which shares its name with the city Obama calls home - was also decked out for the occasion with the Stars and Stripes and cardboard cut-outs of Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney.

Mr Huebner tonight congratulated Obama on his re-election as US President.

"This election was a true celebration of our vibrant democracy."

He said a lot of the focus was on the presidential election, but election day was also one where Americans chose thousands of representatives from the Senate through to city council level.

"It's a great day for American democracy and for democracy generally - this is how it's supposed to work."

Among the Americans gathered at Chicago Bar were masters students Ryan Friesen, 33, and Sunshine Prior, 28, who revelled in the chance to be surrounded by American accents, colours and flags.

Ms Prior, who felt "very patriotic", said she voted for Obama just before returning to New Zealand from a trip home to Texas.

"It was the last thing I did before I went to the airport. I cast my ballot, I got my little sticker and it says 'my vote counted' and I got on the aeroplane."

Mr Friesen, of Indiana, said it was a right and a privilege to mail in his vote for Obama four weeks ago.

"It's something I feel like I need to do, whether I'm at home or abroad."

But the result was a little bit closer than he would have liked.

"I knew it was going to be a close election, but I didn't think Romney was going to represent so well in some of the swing states."

Mr Huebner, whose duties included marking the blue and red states on a map of the US as the results came in, said it was pleasing to see so many New Zealanders interested in the American democratic process.

"I actually find here in New Zealand, there's more interest on average than back home. And if you talk to some of the Kiwis who are in the room tonight, they know more about the American electoral process and American electoral history than most Americans do."

Mr Huebner said whatever the election outcome, it would not have an impact on US-NZ relations.

- APNZ

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