A local Presidential caucus hosted by the Strongsville Republican Club Monday was covered by a news crew from Japan, bringing international attention to town and underscoring Ohio's role in the March 6 primary.
The crew hopes to use an Ohio suburb to illustrate the flavor of the election to Japanese viewers, said Jumpei Yoshioka, a correspondent with the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (Nippon Hoso Kyokai).
"Through this small event, we want to get a big picture," Yoshioka said.
The Japanese media is following the Republican Presidential primary closely, he said.
"American politics is really important for Japanese people," he said.
The crew was planning a trip to the United States when they spotted an online notice about the Strongsville meeting.
"They called me and asked if they could cover it," said Dave Gusman, president of the Strongsville Republican Club.
On Monday night, about 75 people listened to representatives from four campaigns -- Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum -- and voted in a straw poll that saw Romney win by a one-vote margin over Paul.
Santorum was third and Gingrich came in a distant fourth.
Yoshioka said Japanese people generally like President Obama and were surprised to learn there is a serious threat to his re-election.
"Four years ago, the American people were so enthusiastic (about Obama)," he said.
The caucus was a first for Strongsville, largely because this is the first Presidential primary in recent history not already decided by the time Ohioans went to the polls.
"This is great for the party and great for the country, because it gives the candidates a chance to get the issues out there," said Gusman, who predicts no candidate will have more than 50 percent of the delegates by the time the Republican National Convention starts.
Yoshioka, producer Yuko Matsuda and a two-man technical crew arrived in Cleveland Monday.
The crew plans to visit Michigan next and remain in the United States through Super Tuesday.