Obama hits road in bid to counter Romney

2012-08-28 14:30

 Washington - President Barack Obama on Tuesday hopes to siphon some headlines from what he sees as rival Mitt Romney's "convention reinvention" in Florida, hitting states that are key to his political fate.

Obama will break with tradition and campaign hard through several days of the Republican nominating jamboree in Tampa, countering Romney's bid to grab an unfiltered and uninterrupted chance to make his case to voters.

The president will appear on Tuesday in Iowa, the midwestern swing state where he built a campaign juggernaut in 2008, but which now threatens to tip into the Republican column before the 6 November election.

He will make another of his frequent visits to the Rocky Mountain state of Colorado, which he won four years ago but is now also on a knife edge, before returning home on Wednesday via Virginia, a possible firewall for Obama this year.

The president will appear at universities, specifically targeting students embarking on a new academic year, hoping to stir youthful supporters who helped him to the White House but appear lethargic four years on.

Obama will allow Romney his moment alone in the spotlight when the Republican accepts his party's nomination on Thursday, before making a fresh barnstorming tour before the Democratic National Convention next week.

Star power

The idea, campaign officials said, is to keep Obama, facing a tough re-election fight as the economy drags, in the news and to counter what Democrats see as Romney's bid to pull off another political reinvention.

First Lady Michelle Obama will lend her star power to the effort, appearing with late night talk show host David Letterman on Wednesday.

But plans to send Vice President Joe Biden into the eye of the Republican maelstrom in Florida were scotched due to the approach of Tropical Storm Isaac, which could bring hurricane force winds to New Orleans.

Obama is likely to use his trip to Iowa, Colorado and Virginia to preview themes that he will strike when he girds his Democrats for battle at his own nominating convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, next week.

His campaign is already hinting at the mocking response it will launch when Romney accepts the Republican nomination, billing the convention as a desperate bid by the former Massachusetts governor to cover up gaffes and campaign disasters.

"His only hope is a convention reinvention, an Etch-a-Sketch shaken to its core," ran the script of a campaign YouTube video complete with a sonorous voice-over in the style of a bombastic movie trailer.

'Not Gonna Work'

"On August 30, Mitt Romney stars in ... 'The Do Over' ... critics have called his previous work "'Wildly Misleading'."

"'Rated 'N' for 'Not Gonna Work'."

Obama will take to the road as new polls show that the race with Romney is neck and neck, with voters apparently unconvinced with the president's economic record but not yet comfortable with the Republican White House hopeful.

A Washington Post/ABC News survey of registered voters found Romney has crept ahead by 47% to 46%.

More than eight in 10 voters give the economy poor marks, according to the poll, while 50% say they trust Romney more to handle the economy, compared with 43% for Obama.

A majority of respondents say they do not believe either candidate has what it takes to turn the struggling economy around.

A full 58% say they are "not confident" that the economy will improve if Obama wins a second term, while 52% expressed a similar lack of confidence in Romney.