Obama, Romney for White House clash

2012-02-01 22:43

Washington - President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney set their sights on Wednesday on an epic clash for the White House after the Republican tightened his grip on his party race with a crushing Florida primary win.

Romney's victory over Newt Gingrich restored him as the hot favourite to head the Republican ticket in November's election, and revived the prospect of the showdown with the Democratic president that the Obama camp has always expected.

The former Massachusetts governor trained his fire not on his Republican rivals but directly on Obama in his victory speech on Tuesday night, driving home the narrative that only he could restore America's historic mission.

"Mr President, you were elected to lead. You chose to follow, and now it's time for you to get out of the way," a jubilant Romney said in Tampa.

"President Obama wants to fundamentally transform America and make it something perhaps we wouldn't recognise. I want to restore to America the values and principles that made us the hope of the Earth."

The Obama campaign quickly hit back on Wednesday, arguing that a toxic Republican nominating melee was weakening Romney's general election prospects.

Senior strategist Stephanie Cutter argued that Romney's Florida victory had come at a "steep price" - not just in terms of the $15m he and allies reportedly splashed on a fearsome negative advertising blast at Gingrich.

"Second, and more ominously for Romney, his unprecedented negative, far-right Florida campaign continued to damage him among the swing voters he would need in November," Cutter wrote in a campaign memo.

Romney had demonstrated a "unique ability to push key voting constituencies away from his candidacy rather than attract them", Cutter wrote, as Democrats root for a long and damaging Republican nominating contest.

Well drilled campaign

Recent polls of vital swing voters do support the view that Romney would benefit by ending the bitter Republican race as soon as possible.

An ABC News/Washington Post survey last week showed that Romney's unfavourable rating among independent voters climbed to 51% while his favourable rating fell to 23%.

Obama, though, has his own problems with independents, a majority of whom backed his 2008 presidential campaign: a New York Times/CBS poll last month put his approval rating with the key bloc at 31%.

Romney's victory in Florida demonstrated his ability to run a well drilled and lucratively funded state wide campaign and shrewd targeting of key territory in central Florida which is home to most of the state's swing voters.

Florida has 29 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency and, given how the political map is shaking out, is a must-win for Romney if he is to capture the White House.

Obama has uncertain prospects in the state, given an unemployment rate of nearly 10% and a tsunami of mortgage foreclosures which have hammered the savings and security of the middle class.

The president could lose Florida and still win the presidency, according to most projections, but his margin of victory would be considerably narrowed, leaving cliffhanger races in other swing states even more crucial.

A Quinnipiac University poll last week showed Obama and Romney locked in a tie in the state. Recent national general election polls show Obama with a lead of only a few points over the Republican.

Obama has failed

Romney on Wednesday, seeking to project an air of inevitability to effectively nudge his main rival Gingrich out of the Republican race, targeted Obama's economic record.

"The truth is he has failed the American people. He's lost more jobs during his presidency than any other president, I believe in history," Romney told CNN.

"Home values [are] down during his presidency. He doesn't want to talk about that, but that's what we're going to talk about."

Obama knows that barring a surprise explosion of growth, he will probably lose November's election if it becomes a referendum on his economic record, so he is trying to frame an alternative narrative for voters.

Contrary to Romney's claim, Obama did talk about rock-bottom house prices on Wednesday.

He appeared in suburban Virginia, another swing state, touting a new plan to allow responsible home owners to refinance underwater mortgages, part of a push for a new economy that benefits everyone, not just the rich.

"I've been saying this is a make-or-break moment for the middle class. And this housing crisis struck right at the heart of what it means to be middle class in America: our homes," Obama said.

  • Martin - 2012-02-02 01:12

    Ron Paul still has a good chance of winning despite what the media keep telling everyone. In reality, Paul is the only chance that the west has. If America falls then the west will fall. Any president except Paul, will allow and encourage the vast overspending and degradation of the dollar. China will basically own America before the end of the decade.

      Juan - 2012-02-02 01:53

      Everybody were saying during the 80's that Japan would soon own America, well that never happened

      Dmitri - 2012-02-02 05:13

      @Juan, the way things are going now, it would not surprise me if China will own the USA

      thinga - 2012-02-02 08:50

      ...and I understand China will, around 2018 to be precise.

      Nick - 2012-02-02 10:27

      Exactly Martin! Ron Paul is very definitely still in with a chance - the only hope for the US, from a political and economic perspective - to lead the US, and thus the rest of nations, out of the mess - current and what's to come in the coming months. Of course - the establishment big media - like CNN, abc, Fox News etc - will continue to ignore or trivialise him - as they fear GENUINE change! Here's a quote from his speech yesterday: In almost Martin Luther King style: “…Then people would understand – how you have a peaceful, thriving, nation – you enforce the concept of liberty – you enforce the liberty for each and every one of us equally – this brings people together – because people will use their liberty in different manners – but we don’t have to fight over how they use their liberty – so long as they assume responsibility for themselves, and the consequences of all their actions”. Can you argue with the above – hands up anyone – on planet Earth – who can argue with such a cry/statement for liberty – for you and me – for our children – for every man, woman, and child on planet Earth… Listen to the man here: And here: Simple, plain, oh-so easy to follow logic and truth. He's a true civil Libertarian - time for us to take back our true freedoms and liberties - to free ourselves from the interference of big govt meddling in our day-to-day lives - the world over.. :) Go Ron! :)

  • Sterling - 2012-02-02 01:30

    @Africawolf, the US had a 25T meltdown and the economy is back growing so Romney doesn't have the answer. Romney has flip flop on every issue and is a big liar. This man says that he was not aware of all of those overseas bank accounts because his income was in a blind trust. His tax plan would make people like him pay zero taxes. The days of wine and roses will not come back because this country is still wheeling from the meltdown. Congress is not going to remove the regulations that were put on these banks and go back to the same thing.

  • Burtfred - 2012-02-02 06:37

    If Romney is the best the Republicans have to offer, they deserve to have Obama as their president.

  • 2zbunu - 2012-02-02 07:57

    I personally think Obama will still win this election despite the Republican hard push on him. He has made lot of stives in many lives of the American people.Gud luk Barry Obama.

      Dmitri - 2012-02-02 10:50

      2zBunu, actually Obama has done nothing positive. He still blames Bush for the mess. His Obama healthcare is a complee disaster. His economic recovery plan - well, let's just say that 15 odd trillion in debt speaks for itself. His handling of the mid East crisis (Iran) is questionable. He spent more than 140 days playing golf!!!!!!! He puts people into positions that are not doing what needs to be done (sound familiar?). His policy on immigration (especially from Mexico) is a disaster. The US has basically an "open border" policy down South. If you want Obama to be in power for another 4 years, The US will be totally destroyed. Although I do not like Ron Paul very much, he is the lesser of the other evils. Bachmann was my initial vote but it seems as if the US are not ready for a female POTUS. Romney, I feel is a wolf in sheep's clothes. 'The Grinch' - well, his ethics are questionable to say the least. Ron Paul is the most feared by the MSM, so he gets trashed all the time, yet I hope that the American people will open their eyes and see that currently, he is the only one who can beat the golf playing POTUS.

  • richard.fahrenfort - 2012-02-02 09:45

    Dear America, don't be hoodwinked yet again. Vote Ron Paul and put an end to the madness. Sincerely Rest of the World

      Jaryd - 2012-02-05 21:26

      couldnt agree more! those dislikes are ppl who think obama is black or illuminati supporters

  • Jaryd - 2012-02-05 21:23

    Where the hell is ron paul? 70% of military donations were to him and he is the overwhelming republican favourite...clearly not in the pocket of those who decide

      Jaryd - 2012-02-05 21:25

      And love the way they think obama is black despite a white mother!

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