Obama Rising

Posted September 21st, 2012 at 9:30 pm (UTC+0)

Latest public opinion polls give President Barack Obama, shown here at a rally in Woodbridge, Virginia, Sept. 21, with a noticeable lead in key states seven weeks before the presidential election. Photo: AP

Romney Scrambles to Catch Up

It’s been three weeks now since Mitt Romney pleaded his case to be president before the American people in his speech before the Republican Party National Convention in Tampa, Florida.  Before the convention, the presidential race was essentially tied.  Three weeks later there has been a noticeable shift in President Obama’s favor.

So what happened?  The Republican convention did little to boost Mr. Romney’s chances of getting elected.  The lasting memory from the convention is not Mr. Romney’s speech, but Hollywood actor Clint Eastwood’s bizarre, unscripted appearance with an empty chair that was supposed to contain an imaginary President Obama.  The Romney campaign checked with Eastwood early on to find out what he was going to say, but Eastwood simply told them he didn’t know yet and that he would wing it.  Amazing that on such little things campaigns sometimes turn.


Self-inflicted Wounds

Mitt Romney’s decision to weigh in early on the anti-U.S. protests in Egypt and Libya was not well-received, even by some Republicans.  And his latest distraction is proving to be costly as well as he tries to defend his secretly-recorded comments at a private fund raising meeting in May that the 47 percent of voters who support President Obama are dependent on government handouts and see themselves as victims.

Republican Party presidential candidate Mitt Romney greets supporters at a rally in Miami, Florida Sept. 19, as he tries to gain support before the November election. Photo: AP

One of the big problems here is that many people, including many undecided swing voters, are going to be put off by comments that seem to divide and polarize people based on income and tax status.

The telling reactions here are from many Republicans who see the Romney comments as a major gaffe and not in keeping with a conservative philosophy that strives to empower and enfranchise all citizens, regardless of humble beginnings.  Republicans like to point out that Ronald Reagan was always able to put a smiling face on conservatism, but the Romney comments struck many as divisive and unhelpful in his efforts to woo undecided voters and those who are disappointed with Mr. Obama’s performance.


A Less Sour Public

Some of the latest public opinion polls show slight improvements in how Americans see the direction of the country and their views on the national economy.  This has always been the Obama “Achilles Heel,” the thought that voters will simply conclude he’s failed in line with a greater view that the economy is bad and little is being done to fix it or change course.

To be sure these are only slight indications and a number of surveys still show more people believe the country is headed in the wrong direction than on the right course.  But if the trend continues for a while, it could give the Obama campaign a much needed undercurrent of optimism about the economy, which has always been something the Democrats have hoped for but couldn’t count on.

Speaking of polls, the latest numbers for Mr. Romney from so-called battleground states – states that could go either way in the November election — are daunting.  He’s trailing by notable margins in Ohio, Virginia and Iowa, and though the margins are somewhat closer, he’s also behind in Florida, Colorado and Wisconsin, home state of his running mate, Paul Ryan.

That’s not to say Mr. Romney can’t overcome these deficits with seven weeks to go before the election.  But it does appear he needs some sort of major shift in focus or momentum if he’s going to overtake the president. And it’s got to come soon.

Obviously, his crew will look to the upcoming three presidential debates as his best opportunity to make his case and win over converts.  But despite all the attention debates get they don’t always have a major impact on the campaign.

As American University presidential historian Allan Lichtman told us this week, Democrat John Kerry was seen by many as the winner of all three presidential debates with President George W. Bush in 2004 and Mr. Bush still won re-election that November.


Romney and the Middle East

If Mitt Romney does win in November, some of his comments from the secretly-recorded fundraiser in May — released by Mother Jones magazine — may come back to haunt him.

Lost in all the furor over Mr. Romney’s description of the “47 percent” were his comments about Middle East peace, the Palestinians and U.S. policy toward Iran.

Palestinian leaders Saeb Erekat, standing, and Mahmoud Abbas, are unhappy with Republican Mitt Romney’s pronouncements on prospects for Arab-Israeli peace, according to Erekat. Photo: AP

Mr. Romney cast doubt on the longstanding goal of a two-state solution in the Middle East with Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side in relative peace.  He said Palestinians “have no interest whatsoever” in peace with Israel, a statement that drew furious retorts from Palestinian leaders like Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to President Mahmoud Abbas.  Erekat told the Associated Press that anyone who concludes the Palestinians have no interest in peace is also saying Palestinians are not interested in “their freedom and their independence” and that, in his words, is “absolutely unacceptable.”

In the very same video, Mr. Romney described the mullahs in Iran as “crazy people” who could conceivably blackmail the United States by developing nuclear capability.  He also warned that a nuclear-capable Iran would be able to supply terrorist groups with the means to make either a nuclear weapon or a radioactive “dirty bomb.”

Mr. Romney has tried to make U.S. relations with Israel a central part of his critique of the Obama foreign policy, arguing that Washington has been too tough on allies like Israel and not tough enough on adversaries like Iran, Russia and China.

Mr. Romney also likes to recall his special bond with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  The two men became friends when they worked in Boston many years ago.  Mr. Romney also visited Israel on his limited foreign tour earlier this year.

In any event, if Mr. Romney is sitting in the Oval Office come January, it will be interesting to see how quickly his calls are returned from some corners of the Middle East.





5 responses to “Obama Rising”

  1. […] snags in the money race, financial disclosures showed. The key pro-Obama outside spending …Obama RisingVoice of America (blog)Medicare Moves Into Spotlight of Presidential Race; Poll Finds Obama More […]

  2. mohsen says:

    I believe Obama is not entitled to be re-elected as president of usa . Obama has disgraced America by ignoring American principles . Obama did not start a war in the world during his presidency, beside he does not look as frightful and aggressive as US former president .

    • Robert Parrish says:

      It’s not a case of entitlement but one of preserving the union that Obama indeed must be re-elected. One who believes that Willard the Mitt and his running mate, lyin’ Paul Ryan have the least interest or care about the 47% of U.S. populace the twit has labeled governmental leeches and freeloaders (i.e., medicare recipients, pensioned military vets, the unemployed and those living below the poverty level who are not required to pay federal income taxes, etc.) most surely are brain dead, in my opinion. It is inconceivable to me that the majority of those most endangered by the threat of a Republican regime are its supporters.

      • lea says:

        Well said. At the end of the day, forget the ideologies and look at the practical objectives achieved by the president. We know Obama and to take a chance on Romney being any better it would be asinine. He is a rich so a rich man with predatory instinct, who believes in survival of the fittest. Like to see him in action if the market crashes and he lost everything…well except what he hides in Swiss banks and other secret corners of the earth.

        The Republican ideology has some good principles, but lacks the social structure foundation to achieve them… I worked hard just to see the deregulated banks refuse to keep me in business… They almost want you to fail. Republicans do not know how to govern…because they do not live in this reality, but in a dream they sold to the people….to better manipulate them in working for peanuts, until they become as predatory as they are….in the process we loose our humanity, our sense of community and we become us versus them the 47% that pays no taxes and lives on the dole….when in fact the politician are the ones clearly stealing from the treasury. …

  3. As a politician and a leader whose actions and decisions can affect people worldwide, you cannot tell your people whose power of the vote can put you in power that you will only care for 47 percent who pay tax. It is dumb and stupid.You are, or will be, a leader of all the people in your country.Your actions, words and deeds are tantamount to political suicide in this case. My hero Mitt, you cannot gloss over it by trying to explain it away.This shows clearly your inner feeling that has been burning in you for so long. … If I was an American I would never vote for you or your party. You are divisive.

Jim Malone

Jim Malone

After a stint in the Peace Corps in Swaziland, Jim joined VOA in 1983 as a reporter and anchor on English broadcasts to Africa.  He served as East Africa correspondent, then covered Congress in the early 1990’s.   Since 1995, Jim has served as VOA national correspondent responsible for coverage of U.S. politics, elections, the Supreme Court and Justice Department.  Jim has been involved in VOA’s election coverage since the 1984 presidential campaign and has co-anchored live VOA broadcasts of numerous national political conventions, candidate debates and election night coverage.


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