Bush hated everywhere: UK anti-Bush letters spark outrage

14,000 people registered to write letters to Cook county.

LONDON, England (Reuters) --
A pro-Kerry letter-writing campaign by Britain's left-leaning Guardian newspaper, targeting undecided U.S. voters, has provoked outrage across the Atlantic.

The paper has encouraged its readers to express their opinions on the November 2 presidential election to voters in the key swing state of Ohio -- to the fury of Clark county.

"Hey England, Scotland and Wales, mind your own business. We don't need weenie-spined Limeys meddling in our presidential election," was one of the e-mail reactions to the campaign.

The Fox national cable television network tore into the newspaper and even John Kerry's own Democrats expressed horror at the campaign.

"We all feel it is not a good idea. I think it was unwise. It is so poorly thought-out," said Sharon Manitta, spokeswoman in Britain for Democrats Abroad.

But the newspaper, whose cartoons regularly portray President George W. Bush as a semi-literate ape, was unrepentant.

"We did consult a number of opinions and made our decision accordingly," assistant features editor Paul MacInnes told Reuters. "It has been an operation to give our readers an opportunity to express their opinions."

With just two weeks to go before the election, Kerry is running neck and neck with Republican incumbent Bush.

Ohio is a key swing state which Bush won by just four percentage points in 2000, and Clark county is at its heart.

The campaign is a bid to sway voters on the county's electoral register who have declared themselves undecided.

As of Monday night, more than 14,000 people had registered to write to a voter in Cook county which has a population of just 143,000.

Individuals like film director Ken Loach, spy writer John Le Carre, historian Antonia Fraser and opposition Liberal Democratic parliamentarian Menzies Campbell have all written in their own capacity -- not that their names necessarily carry much weight in Cook county.

The Guardian, which simply bought a list of registered voters and extracted the undecided, pledged that it would only give out the name of each voter once, to avoid them being swamped by unsolicited mail from complete strangers.

"We know that in many ways this is the world's election, and we understand the passion and concern in many parts of the world over it. But I wonder how people here in the UK would react to Americans telling them how to vote," Democrats Abroad's Manitta said.

"This will certainly garner more votes for George Bush. I have strongly advised other media entities who have come to me and suggested this against doing so," she added.

While some e-mails to the Guardian from Democrats in Ohio were supportive, others suggested the campaign was misguided.

But their mild admonitions paled into insignificance against the more reactionary views received by the paper.

"Real Americans aren't interested in your pansy-ass, tea-sipping opinions. If you want to save the world, begin with you own worthless corner of it," wrote one from Texas.

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