Obama v Romney: It’s not all about the economy

At the most basic level, the Presidential Race is becoming described as a close battle which will be decided by the state of the US economy. This suggests that there is little that either candidate can do to change the outcome, beyond making some monumental blunder

The Press Association’s appraisal of the situation after Mr Romney’s acceptance speech [30th August 2012] for the presidential nomination could have been written in advance:

Mr Romney accepted the Republican presidential nomination, casting himself as the best hope to lift the struggling US economy and “restore the promise of America”.

His speech marked the climax of the three-day Republican National Convention and a milestone in his long, often-rocky quest for the presidency. He has had to fend off a series of Republican challengers, questions about his shifting positions and mutterings about his Mormon religion.

The ultimate prize, the White House, will be determined in a November vote. Polls show Mr Romney and Mr Obama in a dead heat with the economy the biggest issue in the campaign. The United States is struggling with 8.3% unemployment and the slowest economic recovery in decades.

Mr Romney noted how excitement over Mr Obama’s promises from his campaign four years ago “gave way to disappointment and division…You know there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him,” he said.

Veering from the speech’s focus on domestic affairs, Mr Romney said Mr Obama failed to slow Iran’s nuclear threat, abandoned Poland by changing missile defence plans and has “thrown allies like Israel under the bus”. He said Mr Obama is “eager to give Russia’s President (Vladimir) Putin the flexibility he desires after the election.” But he added: “Under my administration, our friends will see more loyalty and Mr Putin will see a little less flexibility and more backbone.”

The speech was seen as a national introduction of sorts for Mr Romney, 65. Yet for all his time as candidate, Massachusetts governor and head of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, he remains something of an enigma. He is often seen as stiff and distant. While polls show voters view Mr Romney, a multimillionaire former businessman, as more capable of fixing the economy, they find Mr Obama to be more honest and likeable.

It’s the trust in the candidates

The adage that “It’s the Economy Stupid” is a brilliant adage, but it needs qualifying. As the Press Association report indicates, the campaigns will seek to show that the candidates can be trusted to deliver what they promise.

And that’s why the dark arts needed to influence public opinion will cost approximately $6 billion in the couse of the campaign.

BBC Coverage

The BBC coverage followed the Press Association line with more background information about the candidates.

The consensus

The consensus was that Romney had made an effective and powerful acceptance speech which avoided a more often-seen wooden presentation style. At very least he avoided losing the Presidency. His running mate and supporters managed to add value to the campaign without outshining the main man. The race remains neck and neck, according to polls and pundits.

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