Choice emerges in US election

2012-09-09 13:11

Orlando - The red, white and blue convention confetti has cleared to reveal a stark choice for American voters as they decide whether to fire President Barack Obama and hire Mitt Romney.

In a race defined by the economy, they must determine whether Obama gets credit for saving the United States from a second Great Depression and the chance to take the country forward.

Or does he get the blame for a recovery so slow that dawdling economic growth has left unemployment pegged above 8%?

While the just-ended Democratic and Republican national conventions were derided as a costly relic, they did serve to outline the political fork in the road on November 6.

Obama's claims

Obama took his case on Saturday to the most contested slither of the biggest swing state, Florida, and told 11 000 people in St Petersburg, "you've got a big choice to make".

The president claims credit for saving the economy, promises to lift the middle class, and vows to use government to make college affordable, secure health care for the elderly and end the war in Afghanistan.

He says Romney would push through tax cuts for the rich, land the less well off with the bill and return to policies that sparked the financial meltdown.

Using Bill Clinton as a witness, Obama says he could not have been expected to clear up the mess that Republicans left behind in just a few years.

"I won't pretend the path I'm offering is quick or that it's going to be easy. I never have," Obama said on Saturday in a hard truth plea for more time.

One Achilles heel

The president, enjoying a small polling bounce from his convention, is seen by voters as more likeable than Romney, more empathetic to the middle class, and stronger on foreign affairs.

But he has one aching Achilles heel: the economy, which appears to offer Romney his sole chance of winning the White House.

The Republican charged in Virginia that Obama "had a lot of wonderful things to say... but he didn't say what he'd do to help people get jobs or come out of unemployment".

"He doesn't have any ideas," Romney said, a day after his case was bolstered by the release of dismal data showing the economy created only 96 000 jobs last month.

"This president can ask us to be patient... but this president cannot tell us that you are better off today than when he took office," Romney said in his convention address.

Getting to know Romney

The Obama campaign says it came out of its North Carolina convention with momentum, and helped its turnout operation.

"We think it is going to help really frame this election as a choice," said a senior Obama aide.

"We think it also puts in perspective the economy we inherited, where we are and where we need to go."

The Romney campaign counters by saying it believes voters got to know their candidate at a heavily biographical Republican convention.

"That's positioned us to really persuade a lot of these voters," Romney spokesperson Kevin Madden said on Saturday.

"That'll be what these next 60 days is about, talking directly to the issue that they care about most which is the economy."

US elections are not decided on the basis of a popular vote, but by 50 races for the electoral votes of each state.

A slight lead

In practice, the election turns on less than a dozen competitive battlegrounds, including Virginia, Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nevada, Colorado, Florida, Virginia and North Carolina.

In pre-convention polls, Obama appeared to have a narrow lead in most swing states, according to the RealClearPolitics average of opinion surveys.

"Our belief is we entered the convention with a small but important lead in most of those battleground states," said top White House strategist David Plouffe.

"We will see where we are at the end of next week, but our suspicion is the race is going to be about where it was."

Privately, Obama strategists say their advantage, if it holds up, means Romney needs to win undecided voters in battleground states by an unlikely three or four to one margin.

That is a tall order given that Obama has more solidly Democratic states in his column, and more plausible routes to the necessary 270 electoral votes, than Romney who almost has to run the table of competitive states.

Big campaign spender

The Romney camp, however, says there are around 8% to 10% of voters in battleground states yet to decide, and that they are among the people most distressed with the state of the country.

"That's an incredible opportunity for us," said Madden, adding that as the economy struggles, Romney's message in the last 60 days will become ever more compelling.

Also compelling is Romney's cash advantage after the former Massachusetts governor significantly outraised the president in recent months.

Romney will also be boosted by a torrent of negative advertising by supportive outside groups knocking the president's record and character, could smudge the current "likeability" advantage Obama has over his foe.

One Obama aide said Romney and supportive groups were outspending the president by a two-to-one margin in some battleground states.

"They are going to outspend us everywhere," the official said.

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-09-09 13:26

    Americans have gotten so enthralled by the virtual democracy that they haven't noticed that the real one has vanished. They have been fooled into believing that they have a choice of who becomes president, they don't. It is the moneyed corporate lobbyists who decide. They have been duped into a political circus that is outwardly noisy and frantic, but inwardly powerless and irrelevant. The extent of indoctrination in the US is more complete than in Soviet Russia, at least the Russians knew they were being lied to all the time.

      john.morreira.9 - 2012-09-09 14:26

      What a pity, that the majority of South Africans,don't understand that they are being lied to all the time.

      pisciotta - 2012-09-09 15:19

      Fidel - My SA wife and I are in the States at the moment as I wanted her to be here during one of our Presidential Elections. She observes all the activities with amazement. But is more amazed by the fact Americans can vote for our Town, City, County and State Government leaders in addition to our Federal Representatives, Senators and of course our President. We vote into our local offices positions such as Treasures, Prosecuting Attorneys, Judges, County Sheriffs and local Police Chiefs and Fire Marshalls just to name a few. The "Real One" type of Democracy as you called it has not vanished from America. My SA wife tells me this type of Democracy is not the Democracy of SA. Wonder why SA didn't go full bore with Democracy when it had the chance?

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-09 15:30

      . The rubbish you can utter, must at times even stun yourself. EVERY SINGLE COMMENT has ONE thread; HATRED Even if you did you utmost best, you don't have the brain capacity to even understand the very basics of American democracy. To compare US democracy to that of Soviet Russia, you are nothing more than the; -----------------------NEWS24.COM-----JOKER---------------------- .

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-09 15:43

      . Your silly and childish attitude to American politics is not surprising at all. What can one expect from someone , who believes that the ones who fought to liberate SA, with many giving their lives, only did so for; -------------"" a noisy circus every four or five years""---------- It is unimaginable to have someone with a more disturbed and worped brain !!!

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-09-09 15:59

      @PJP My post is in reference to political appointees. Of course the corporate state would let you believe that you had some semblance of power in selecting your local representatives. What is even more interesting to me is how presidential votes are counted in your country. Who has the authority to pronounce the voting results and who appoints this authority.

      pisciotta - 2012-09-09 16:10

      Fidel - don't back peddle. Your post was about "virtual" vs "real one" democracy. No metion of "political appointees" and there are more of them in SA than you can shake a stick at. If your pointing to our Electorial College I remind you that applies only to the President and Vice-President not to any other position - and certainly not local positions which as a S. African you have no say. As for America, the EC is a good thing. It was established as a balance between a President elected by congress (whose members are voted for by the people) and the current "popular vote". It is another example of the "Check & Balance" built into the American Constitution and our Democracy. It protects from such ignorance as seen in SA where the uneducated majority vote by colour or who put Pap in their bowl. Again, the police chief of my city, the judges in my city courts, the treasurer of my county, the assessor who determines my property tax, and even the %state and city taxes I pay - all those an more are subject to an Election by the people. Have S. Africans ever been allowed to vote at this level - for taxes especially? Why not?

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-09 16:17

      According to Fidel, Nelson Mandela is a "political appointee", a phony, a lackey of the West, a modern-day Uncle Tom. His words in the US/Mandela story a few weeks ago. This is how much he really knows, and how accurate his perspective is. If you agree that Nelson Mandela is a phony, agree with Fidel. If you agree with Fidel, you agree that Nelson Mandela is a phony.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-09 16:21

      He doesn't really know. He's detached from true reality and distorts it with his obsessive anti-West beliefs. Imagine believing Nelson Mandela is a phony. Out of this same mind comes the idea that the US does not have democracy. He does not observe that democracy in the US is imperfect. He observes democracy does not exist there.

      pisciotta - 2012-09-09 16:35

      Fred I had not been to SA during Apartheid. As as America I can say Nelson Mandela was the image of freedom. Now that I know more I understand what he really did and didn't do my opinion of him is mixed. As for Americans, Mandela will be the SA version of Dr. Martin Luther King. But I must admit when I ask Americans what they think of SA they think firstly of Mandel (some think also of Tutu), then they all think of the crime and finally a Safari. Not a good reputation hey?

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-09-09 16:41

      @PJP "They have been fooled into believing that they have a choice of who becomes president, they don't. It is the moneyed corporate lobbyists who decide." That is what I wrote and hence I commented on the presidential selection. It is you who then brought up other selection processes.

      pisciotta - 2012-09-09 16:54

      Fidel American Democracy can not be understood simply in the context of our Presidental Election. We are not like SA. We have Democracy everywhere in our lives - even to our Taxes. I asked you a qusetion about this and you failed to answer. Why? Perhaps your gripe is that you are not as free as you'd like to be and in your jealousy you lash out rather than observe and try to make a positive difference where you are. And for the record, Lobbist are hired by interest groups to plead their case before congressional members in Washington. They do not vote for the president. Now - go make a positive difference in your village.

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