News24

Democrats stop the haemorrhaging

2012-06-14 11:21

New York - The Democrats have had a rough couple of weeks. President Barack Obama is dropping in polls against Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Romney outraised Obama $76m to $60m in May.

And in a hastily organised press conference on Friday, Obama dropped a clanging sound bite, saying “the private sector is doing fine” (which it is patently not) when he meant the private sector’s recovery is doing fine.

Finally, on Tuesday, Democrats managed to stop the haemorrhaging and create some good news of their own in a special election in Arizona.
 
In January last year, a House representative for Arizona, Gabrielle Giffords, was attacked by a gunman in Tucson and shot in the head in an incident which killed six people and injured 13 others. She survived but was badly injured and, as expected, her recovery time is long. She resigned from her post in January of this year, which forced a special election to refill her seat.
 
On Tuesday that special election was held and provided a silver lining amongst a bad news fortnight for Democrats. Ron Barber, who was an aide to Giffords and was injured in the attack, beat Republican Jesse Kelley.
 
It is a pretty fine silver lining for Team Obama – Arizona is a conservative part of the country and Barber ran as a moderate (which are known as Blue Dogs) - in fact he didn’t identify himself as a Democrat in any of his campaign television adverts.

But he managed to paint his opponent as a severe right-winger who planned to mess with entitlements such as Social Security. Interestingly, Republicans campaigned on Barber being close to Obama, and Barber spent his campaign keeping the President at arms’ length.
 
In spite of this strategy, Democrats will welcome some good news after a sea of bad. Although this is unlikely to stem the momentum currently held by the Romney campaign, it at least gives the Democrats reason to smile, and hopefully a campaign strategy coming forward.
 
Incidentally, Bill Clinton said in April that Obama should paint Romney as a super conservative as a campaign strategy, as opposed to throwing everything including the kitchen sink at him. It worked in Tuesday in Arizona, it worked in New York state in May 2011, and Democrats would be wise to see what it can do nationally.