Todd Muller has an obsession with American politics that began when he was a 10-year-old boy poring over his family's World Book encyclopedias.

He loved looking at the pictures and reading the biographies of past presidents and says those pages of the encyclopedias were well-thumbed.

Read more: Inside story: Political divide

"It went on from that to writing a book about myself in the future being the president of the United States," the Bay of Plenty's National MP says.


"I was so successful being the president of the United States in my 10-year-old imagination, I served for 13 terms."

The obsession continued into adulthood and in 1996, while working in then Prime Minister Jim Bolger's office, Muller was sponsored by the US Government to follow the Republican primaries for five weeks.

He visited the White House and watched campaigning in several states, stunned by the audience at a speech by ultra-conservative Pat Buchanan.

"Everybody had a gun, waving it in the air, it was extraordinary."

He is equally as interested in this year's election and says America's political situation is crucial to New Zealand interests.

The more America considers putting walls up around its citizens, both physical and imagined, the worse it is for this country.


"If it is minded to play an active role in the world, both in a security context and a trading context, that works for New Zealand [whereas] the more America considers putting walls up around its citizens, both physical and imagined, the worse it is for this country."

So Muller is not a fan of Donald Trump's proposal to build a wall across the border with Mexico to stem the flow of immigrants?

"I think it's an unusual rhetorical flourish with very little chance of ever being built," Muller says.

The MP predicts Trump will win the Republican race, but prefers John Kasich, whom he regards as considered in his views on both domestic and world affairs.

At the same time, he says the way candidates campaign isn't necessarily an indication of how they may govern.

"Another way of saying it is they campaign in poetry, if you can call it that, and they govern in prose."

On the Democratic Party side, he believes Hillary Clinton has been surprised by the appeal of Bernie Sanders, but says she is likely to triumph because of her support from about 80 per cent of the super-delegates.

"She'll win New York. She'll win California, and bluntly, she's basically there."

Despite his obsession, Muller prefers New Zealand's political system and no longer has aspirations of becoming US president.

"No, I'm quite happy being the MP for Bay of Plenty. It's more realistic and I suspect a lot more rewarding," he says with a laugh.

TAURANGA MP Simon Bridges, meanwhile, has reservations about both Clinton and Trump.

"The worry that I have is that the both of them in their posturing have been anti-TPP," he says. "For the Bay of Plenty, it'd be very negative if America was to not be part of it."

The National MP says he preferred Republican candidate Marco Rubio, who was knocked out of the race last week.

"And that wasn't because I think I look a bit like him," Bridges jokes. "He sounded good, he had youthful enthusiasm, but also some good political nous."

TAURANGA'S other MP, New Zealand First's Clayton Mitchell, is leaning toward Clinton as preferred president.

"I think to have a female president wouldn't be a bad thing," he says. "[And] the Obama administration, although they've had some failed policies, I think they've got some good intended policies that I would like to think could continue on in an administration led by Hillary Clinton."

On Trump, Mitchell says in one respect he has ignited voters but, in another, his rhetoric on subjects such as terrorism is dangerous and designed to appeal to uneducated people.

"Some of the things that Donald Trump has come out to say would make it impossible to me if I was an American voter to vote for him."

He says Trump's talk of wanting to build a bigger army when America already has an attack capability 10 times the size of any army in the world is "very, very concerning".

Like the other MPs, Mitchell believes New Zealanders need to pay attention to the US election because of America's influence on our economy.

"If America catches a cold, we're sure as hell gonna catch a cold."