By Steve Thomas Observer Nevis Editor (Barbados) ” America’s top diplomat in the Eastern Caribbean has reaffirmed the strong bonds between the region and Washington while a U.S. journalist shared his thoughts on the presidential election. The remarks were made at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination at at the University of the West Indies in Barbados. U.S. Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Mary Ourisman, thinks the future of the United States and the Caribbean are bound together and “we cannot escape the fact that whatever happens in the United States impacts on the region”. Ambassador Ourisman spoke prior to a lecture entitled, “Elections ’08 ” An Insider’s Perspective,”given by American journalist John Merciurio on Aug. 11. “It is a very good idea that as friends and allies we take a very keen interest in the democratic process in our respective countries,” she said. People in the United States had followed recent general elections in Barbados “with great interest” and noted that President George Bush had invited Prime Minister David Thompson to the White House to reaffirm the friendship and co-operation between the two countries, shortly after he became prime minister, she said. Mr. Merciurio then shared his take on the U.S. presidential election. He is editor of The Hotline, an online news source covering American politics. The current United States election campaign was ‘the most fascinating” in his lifetime, adding that in his view, neither Democrat candidate Barack Obama nor Republican John McCain “has sealed the deal”. A tone of negativity was now dominating the campaign, “a disappointing development,” he said. “I do think though that the negativity, in watching both campaigns very closely, has been instigated by John McCain to a larger extent than Barack Obama,” he said. Obama was still “at this point struggling to convince voters that he is ready to be president, and that he has the experience that voters believe is necessary for the next commander-in-chief,” Mr. Merciurio said. “I think to a large extent he is dealing with the question that every American voter is asking himself . . . whether or not the United States is ready to elect its first African American president,” he said. On the other hand, he pointed to John McCain’s recent message which projects his opponent as lacking the substance to become president, despite his current “global celebrity” status. Merciurio viewed this as ‘the most effective argument for McCain to make about Obama.” “Whoever is elected will be under pressure to change the course of the country,” he said.