Rupert Murdoch predicts landslide for Democrats

CARLSBAD, California Thu May 29, 2008 1:31pm EDT

1 of 6. News Corp Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch smiles during a news conference before the 2008 Atlantic Council Awards Dinner in Washington April 21, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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CARLSBAD, California (Reuters) - News Corp Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch on Wednesday predicted a Democratic landslide in the U.S. presidential election against a gloomy economic backdrop over the next 18 months.

Murdoch has yet to endorse a U.S. presidential candidate but considers Barack Obama very promising, the media magnate said in an interview by two Wall Street Journal reporters at an annual conference for high-tech industry insiders.

News Corp recently acquired ownership of the Journal and its parent company Dow Jones & Co.

"You have got the Obama phenomenon. You have got, undoubtedly, a recession ... The average American is really getting hurt financially and that all bodes well for him (Obama), Murdoch said.

"You have probably the making of a complete phenomenon in this country," Murdoch said in describing what he predicted will be a sweeping victory for Democrats in November.

The recent special election for a U.S. Congressional seat held by Republicans in Mississippi showed how powerless that party may be in the face of a rising political tide, Murdoch said. Democrat Travis Childers won the seat this month.

Murdoch said Obama and John McCain, the expected nominee of the Republican Party, both have a lot of problems, but McCain will be hurt by his party and his close ties to Washington. Race will be an issue for Obama, who would be the first black U.S. president, but "it looks like he overcomes that, overcomes that totally."

Murdoch is associated with conservative political views but has a reputation for a pragmatic streak in major national races where he has shown a willingness to switch sides when he detects major political changes afoot.

"I think it (a recession) is one we will be coming out of for quite some time," Murdoch said. "In the next 18 months, this country is going to be in for a very hard time."

In the 2008 U.S. Presidential race, Murdoch said he is not yet backing anyone, but then quickly added: "I want to meet Obama. I want to know if he going to walk the walk."

Murdoch said he had played a role in the endorsement by the New York Post, one of his global stable of papers, in endorsing Obama during the Democratic primary with Hillary Clinton in New York.

(To read more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online at blogs.reuters.com/trail08/ )

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