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In Vietnamese City Where McCain Was Imprisoned, Many Support Obama

Former Vietnam prisoner-of-war John McCain spent years advocating better relations between Vietnam and the United States. Many older Vietnamese consider him a friend of Vietnam, and would like to see him become the next U.S. president. But many in Vietnam support Barack Obama - and it is not just the young adults. Matt Steinglass has more from Hanoi.

Nguyen Tran Bat is head of InvestConsult, which helps foreign companies do business in Vietnam. He hopes Senator John McCain becomes the next president of the United States.

Bat says McCain has a historical relationship with Vietnam, and when someone you know becomes successful, you feel happy for him.

Attitudes like Bat's are common in Vietnam's business community, which is grateful to McCain for his role in establishing trade relations with the U.S.

And many older Vietnamese, influenced by Confucian values, prefer McCain over the younger Senator Barack Obama.

But not all older Vietnamese see things that way. 69-year-old Hoang Hiep, a veteran of what Vietnamese call the American War, supports Obama.

Hiep knows of McCain's history as a pilot shot down over Hanoi. But he says McCain is conservative and is getting too old, and does not deserve to be president.

Bui Viet Lam, a 26-year-old reporter at the news website VietNamNet, says she prefers Obama as well.

"I think that for the younger generation like me, I prefer Obama, maybe because he is so energetic," she said. "And the young are always impressed with personal style, and he is so good at using [the] Internet to communicate with other people."

In senior circles of Vietnam's government, the analysis seems to be mixed.

U.S. diplomats say they have assured leaders that whoever wins the election, Washington's policies toward Vietnam will remain consistent. Vu Mao, the former chairman of the foreign relations committee of Vietnam's National Assembly, agrees.

Mao says whichever candidate wins will act in America's interests, and that U.S. policy toward Vietnam will not change very much.

And while Mao sees McCain's history with Vietnam as an advantage, he also sees strengths for Obama.

If Obama wins, Mao says, he will be the first black president in U.S. history. That would be good, he says, and people would look at America in a welcoming light.

Dinh Trong Mich is 65-year-old war veteran who is paying close attention to the election. But Mich, who served in an anti-aircraft missile unit like the one that shot John McCain down, says he does not care who wins.

Mich says whoever wins will only serve U.S. interests, not Vietnam's. He says all he cares about is that the new president helps victims of Agent Orange.

Agent Orange is a toxic defoliant U.S. forces sprayed on Vietnam's jungles during the war. It poisoned many people and caused birth defects in many of the children of people exposed to it.

The U.S. has recently introduced a few programs to clean up Agent Orange residue and help disabled Vietnamese.