LONDON - He might not have the stature of Colin Powell or even be able to vote in the US, but London's Conservative mayor, Boris Johnson, has backed Democratic candidate Barack Obama for president.
Johnson said Obama "seems highly intelligent" and "has an air of courtesy and sincerity"
He added that "unlike the current occupant of the White House he has no difficulty in orally extemporising a series of grammatical English sentences".
Contrasting Obama with Republican opponent John McCain, Johnson said: "He visibly incarnates change and hope at a time when America desperately needs both. I am not suggesting that McCain is a buffoon, or that Obama is quite as Messianic as some of his supporters seem to believe," he wrote in the Daily Telegraph newspaper yesterday.
"But then, again, he is patently not the Marxist subversive loony lefty that some of his detractors allege."
Johnson's vote of confidence for Obama is perhaps unexpected, given the traditional alliance between the Republican Party in the United States and the Conservative Party in Britain.
Though the two parties have long been close their thinking has diverged in recent years, notably over the environment.
Johnson said: "Obama deserves to win because he seems talented, compassionate, and because he offers the hope of rejuvenating the greatest country on earth in the eyes of the rest of us.
"All those are sufficient reasons for desiring his victory. And then there is the final, additional reason, the glaring reason, and that is race.
"If Obama wins he will have established that being black is as relevant to your ability to do a hard job as being left-handed or ginger-haired, and he will have re-established America's claim to be the last, best hope of earth."
The former Conservative lawmaker, elected London mayor in May, has been prone to gaffes and forced to apologise to the city of Liverpool and Papua New Guinea for controversial comments.
Powell, George W Bush's former secretary of state, came out for Obama on Sunday. - Sapa-AFP