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Like any good diplomat, he evaded the question and said he supports the one who wins.

“It’s like a Christmas gift,” he said. “You don’t say anything until the day you open the box, and then say, ‘This just what I wanted.’ The only difference is that you can’t get the receipt and go and exchange it.”


If President Obama loses Tuesday’s election, he might find a use for a special gift that his old friend, the U.S. ambassador to Australia, is planning to send him.

Jeffrey Bleich, who has known the president for 20 years, bought Mr. Obama a couple of bottles of single-malt whiskey from the Australian island of Tasmania, which is becoming renown for its strong, peaty tipple and gaining the nickname “The Scotland of the South.”

“He likes whiskey,” Mr. Bleich told Australian reporters before visiting the Tasmanian capital, Hobart. “I’ve already promised I’m going to bring back some Tasmanian whiskey with me.”

Mr. Bleich, who has been ambassador in Australia since 2009, is a California lawyer who served as co-chairman of Mr. Obama’s national campaign finance committee in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.