6 Nov 2008

Fear and loathing as Republicans absorb defeat

1:35 am on 6 November 2008

They came hoping to celebrate a coronation but ended up drowning their sorrows, with some mourning the imminent death of family values and the rise to power of America's first black president.

John McCain's defeat to Democrat Barak Obama on Tuesday was greeted with a mixture of shock, anger and deep fear for the future by Republican die-hards gathered at Phoenix's Arizona Biltmore Hotel for an election night party.

The discontent was evident almost as soon as Mr McCain started addressing supporters on an outdoor lawn in front of a giant Stars and Stripes to give his concession speech, with some in the crowd booing.

For many, it was just too much to take: at least two female Mr McCain supporters were seen weeping inconsolably as the desolation of defeat set in.

"It's terrible, just terrible," said Lindsay Diamond from Phoenix. "When the economy's bad, Republicans lose."

The 28-year-old dancer could take some consolation from Mr Obama's victory though. "I don't think we'll have to worry about another African-American president in four years time," she said.

"Because after what's going to happen in the next four years under Obama, we'll never elect an African-American again."

Ms Duncan's friend, 30-year-old Sarah Duncan, was more generous.

"There's no question that Obama's an absolutely phenomenal, knock-your-socks-off speaker," she said.

"McCain is old and not very dynamic, and that's what people see. But people don't look past the image and the fancy words when they look at Obama.

"I just don't think America is quite ready for an African-American to be president. There's already people out there saying they'll try to assassinate him. He'll make us a socialist country but Americans won't accept that."

Media blamed for loss

Several supporters meanwhile blamed the media for Mr Obama's success, saying the press and television had given the Democrat an easy ride.

"I'm very disappointed because I don't believe Obama is telling the truth when he speaks to the crowds," said Jeanette Woodward. "And the press has been very biased. We don't get the truth."

"I'm frightened because we are in the tax bracket that he's been talking about punishing. So we are going to have to let go some of our employees and cut back on our business now.

"My husband says that if he knew that he was gonna work that hard for 30 years for somebody else, he wouldn't have worked so hard."

Mazie Hoffmann, a long-time Republican, also blamed the media for Mr McCain's defeat.

"I can't believe it. We lost, it's the media," she said. "But we'll wake up tomorrow morning and life will continue. But it's got a bitter taste."