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Obama-Romney race still tight with seven weeks to go

Sunday, September 16, 2012

(Photo)
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigns Friday in Painesville, Ohio.
(Charles Dharapak ~ Associated Press)
WASHINGTON -- Middle East violence is shaking up a presidential race that otherwise looks stable and tight. President Barack Obama holds a tiny edge, Republican Mitt Romney is seeking a breakthrough message, and three debates are ahead in the campaign's final seven weeks.

Republicans and Democrats agree the election probably will be decided on Obama's jobs-and-economy record. Both campaigns are gearing up for the new week by trying to shift the focus back to that issue. But foreign policy leaped to the forefront in recent days when protesters attacked U.S. diplomats and missions in the Middle East, and it's unclear when it will recede.

Criticisms of Romney's quick-draw response to the protests underscored both his foreign policy vulnerabilities and the difficulty in knocking off an incumbent, especially one who remains relatively well-liked despite a struggling economy. Obama used the trappings of the presidency to full advantage. He led somber events honoring the four U.S. officials killed in Libya. He also needled his challenger by saying that Romney "seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later."

As unrest abroad continues, Obama is launching an aggressive effort to convince voters in the most competitive states -- Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia -- that his economic policies are working and that Romney is risking the nation's recovery with a plan that caters to multimillionaires over the middle class.

"They want to go back to the same old policies that got us in trouble in the first place," former president Bill Clinton is shown saying in the 60-second TV ad.

(Photo)
FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2012 file photo, President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks in Golden, Colo. Somethingís going on with economy; Obama launches a 60 second spot in key states, sensing an opening while Romneyís team seeks to shift the conversation back to that issue, his strength, even as a new poll shows Obama having erased his advantage. Numbers are moving.
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
Romney is trying to get back to the economy, his strength, even as a new national survey by The New York Times and CBS News finds that he has lost his long-standing edge on the question of whom voters view as most likely to restore the economy and create jobs. Voters are feeling slightly more optimistic that the president's policies are helping. Still, that poll and others found the race narrowly divided.

"Beating an incumbent is never easy," Romney told ABC on Friday. He dismissed polls that show Obama ahead. "I'm doing well ... and this is a campaign which I think will come into focus as the debates occur."

Diverse advice is pouring into Romney's camp: Paint Obama as a weak leader at home and abroad; shift the focus firmly back to the economy; fire up the conservative base; concentrate on the relatively small number of undecided voters.

Some of Romney's associates, including his running mate, say personality, not policy, may hold the key to reassuring wary voters.

"I'm not the only one who has told Mitt that maybe he needs to talk more about himself and his life," Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP's vice presidential nominee, told conservative activists Friday.

In the race to reach 270 electoral votes for victory, polls suggest Obama holds slight edges in the crucial states of Ohio, Florida, Virginia and New Hampshire. And internal polling by both campaigns shows close races in Colorado, Iowa and Nevada. Both sides agree that Romney is doing better in North Carolina, which Obama narrowly carried in 2008.

The wild card might be Wisconsin, Ryan's home state, which Obama won by 14 percentage points over Arizona Sen. John McCain. Both campaigns are spending money there.

Vice President Joe Biden visited Wisconsin on Thursday, and Obama is scheduled to go this coming week.

Ohio and Florida are the most coveted tossup states. Romney's election is not assured even if he wins both. A failure to carry either state would almost surely doom his chances.

Obama's prospects in Ohio appear to have improved lately, perhaps because his rescue of the auto industry is generally popular. Still, Ohio Democrats are not celebrating.

"We've seen plenty of examples of how dynamic these races are," said Greg Haas, Democratic chairman of Franklin County. "I don't think anyone on our side is, or should be, taking it easy."

In Florida, the biggest battleground prize, Republicans worry that Romney can't seem to close the deal in a state hampered by high unemployment and home foreclosures. Democrats, however, fear Obama's edge in the state may be fleeting and they fret about Florida's undecided voters. They're also nervous about legal battles over state voter laws that could cut into Obama's support among minorities.

Scott Arceneaux, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, said fears about turnout keep him up at night.

"It's a huge state, requiring a massive effort," Arceneaux said. "It's the largest and strongest ground game this state has ever seen. But knowing what we have to get done in the next eight weeks, we worry about it."

The campaign's final seven weeks will dump new torrents of TV ads on the few competitive states, fueled by the eye-popping fundraising of Romney, Obama and their supporters. In a single visit to New York City last week, Romney collected $7.5 million at three events, his campaign said.

The TV spots' effectiveness could fade as weary viewers tune them out. That would elevate the importance of the "ground game" -- the phone calls and door-to-door contacts the parties use to bring their voters to the polls.

In an election this tight, virtually any factor -- turnout, a debate gaffe, an economic surprise -- might decide the outcome. Or it might turn on a mundane, hard-to-measure event, such as Romney suddenly finding ways to connect with voters who are within inches of abandoning the president.

"A lot of them I talk to are tired of Obama, but they're not sure they like Mitt Romney either," said Deb Gann, head of the Fayette County Republican Party in Iowa. "A lot of people I talk to just don't know who is the lesser of two evils."

For now at least, Democrats are buoyed by what they see as Romney's lurches from subject to subject. They pointed to his quick denunciation of the Cairo embassy's appeal for calm last week when Muslims began rampaging in protest of an amateur video that denigrates Islam.

Democrats accused Romney of politicizing a tragedy. Hawkish conservatives cheered Romney's claims that Obama shows weak, halting leadership overseas.

Obama aides said Romney has miscalculated, failing to assure Americans he would respond in judicious, levelheaded ways to crises. Other Democrats said Romney is grasping for any rung that might move him up the ladder.

"The central premise of his candidacy -- that he will be better than President Obama in dealing with the economy -- just isn't working," said Democratic consultant Jim Manley. "They keep on allowing themselves to be distracted by divisive social policy issues that are really out of the mainstream. And if Romney really is relying on foreign policy as his best shot to oppose the president, he's in deep, deep trouble."

Not so, said veteran GOP strategist Terry Holt.

"It's absolutely vital that our nominee speak to the issues that people are watching and talking about," Holt said of the Middle East violence.

"The challenge for Romney is to be a safe and credible alternative to the president," Holt said. "The chaos in the Middle East could be a game-changer in this election," he said, if it raises new questions about Obama's leadership and allows Romney to present a stronger, more resolute approach.


Bakst reported from Wisconsin. Associated Press writers Steve Peoples, Beth Fouhy, Kasie Hunt, Julie Pace and Ben Feller contributed to this report.


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How is Romney going to carry Florida with Ryan on the ticket? Their Medicaid cuts have an immediate impact on current seniors. Medicaid pays for nursing home care for seniors. Medicare does not. Even more importantly, Florida seniors think Medicare is a good thing. Something they want for their children and grandchildren.

Romney is no conservative. He and Ryan want to end Medicare. Ryan pushed for complete privatization of Social Security and even President Bush watered down his proposal. Trying to end Medicare and Social Security is something way past 'conservatism'. Conservatism is conserving the good things we have. Medicare and Social Security are good things we developed over the past 70 years. Conservatives should be trying to conserve and improve those good things.

-- Posted by Pythagoras on Sun, Sep 16, 2012, at 6:05 AM

Thank you conserve future for a very clear picture of this very important decision.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Sun, Sep 16, 2012, at 6:21 AM

Medicare and Medicaid are broken. Most doctors have a problem with it. The claim system bears no relationship to reality. The amount of fraud in these two programs is unbelievable. The costs of administering these programs is out of control. Unless there are some major changes, these programs will collapse. Romney and Ryan are not advocating "eliminating" Medicare or Social Security. They are looking at ways to fix the system. Conservatism has nothing to do with "conserving" bad programs - it has to do with making smart choices and reforming bad choices.

-- Posted by ParkerDaws on Sun, Sep 16, 2012, at 7:07 AM

ParkerDaws definition of conservatism is also true. The choice is whether we believe Medicare and Social Security are good programs or bad ones.

However, Romney/Ryan are, in fact advocating the eventual end of Medicare and Social Security. Privatization of those programs will end them as surely as privatization of defined benefit pension plans with 401k plans ended pensions.

This is the choice in this election.

-- Posted by Pythagoras on Sun, Sep 16, 2012, at 7:12 AM

conserve_our_future by voting OBAMA out of office and out of the country.

-- Posted by grandpa3 on Sun, Sep 16, 2012, at 8:55 AM

Romney and Ryan are not ending medicare if they are elected they are going to preserve it for the future generations, and if your 55 years are older your not even part of the restructuring process you will continue to receive your social security and medicare. Some people amaze me it is always about ME today the heck with future generations the mind set some have.

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Sun, Sep 16, 2012, at 9:05 AM

Well, Swamp, you might read the first post in this chain. The reason Romney will not carry Florida is that too many seniors really do care about the next generation and not only about themselves.

Grandpa, it's Sunday. I think Americans of all stripes care about the country. Some are misguided but disrespect for the President is disrespect for the country.

-- Posted by Pythagoras on Sun, Sep 16, 2012, at 9:36 AM

conserve I have heard many of the younger generation say they really don't want the social security and medicare deductions coming out of there pay roll checks each pay period. Many feel that the government has no right doing that they feel like that they can take that money and invest themselves instead of the government telling them what to do with there money they earned. Also, many of the younger people do not trust the government with there money they have a good point look where the fund is today nearly if not insolvent. The fund was good when it was enacted but over the years congress kept tapping it and not replacing what they borrowed from it now it is broke.I say give the younger generations the right to do what they want to with there money they earned it and they do not need big brother telling them what they should do with there money.

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Sun, Sep 16, 2012, at 9:49 AM

Each company has only so much money coming in as revenue. When those at the top of the ladder of wage earners, the rich, take a lot of money for themselves in salary and benefits it leaves less for the rest of those workers in the company. When those workers on the middle part of the ladder in wage earning category, the middle class, have only a little money left over after paying for the basic necessities of living then they can only buy a little bit more products each month to fuel the economy. When those at the bottom of the ladder in the wage earning category, the poor class, only barely make enough to survive then they can't buy anything each month to fuel the economy. In fact many at the bottom of the ladder in the wage earner category need government assistance of one kind or another in order just to survive. For those at the top of the economic wage earning ladder like Romney to bad mouth the work efforts of those at the bottom of the economic ladder and saying that the poor working class need to stop their dependency and insult the poor by saying that they need to 'need to restore a culture of good work' is ridiculous. The reason the middle class and the poor class don't have a lot of money is because the rich upper class took too much of the companies funds for themselves and didn't leave enough for the middle class and the poor class to have enough funds to fuel the economy or to live on. There is a revolution going on in this election as it was in every election since 1980 when the Republicans had our government adapt the voodoonomics style of government and it looks like every election we have in the future. This is a revolution between the rich like Romney and those that they brainwashed against the rest of us. You voters are going to have to decide if you want the rich like Romney to use voodoonomics to keep most of the funds from the payrolls from the companies we work for for themselves or are we going to not!

Folks, this election is about more than just the economy and the weekly job numbers.. It's about fairness. It's about how Romney conducted himself at Bain . It's about how many taxes did Romney pay and why and where does he have offshore money accounts. It's about Romney bringing back voodoonomics with many tax cuts for the rich and enacting the Ryan budget plan or Obama's tax cuts only for the first $250,000 of your income. This election is about rights. It's about Romney and the Republicans taking away a women's right to an abortion and closing down Planned Parenthood. It's about the environment and who do we trust to do something about global warming. Considering the hot summer we had it's obvious we have to do something. President Obama and the Democrats want to do something to help end global warming yet Romney and the Republicans will only make global warming worse. Romney wants to take away tax credits for windmills yet preserve tax credits for money rich oil companies and give coal companies the green light to pollute our environment more than it is now. It's about gun control. It's about us Americans finally getting some kind of gun control with President Obama and the Democrats or not getting any kind of gun control with Romney and the Republicans. It's about equality and the rights that need to be made into law as president Obama has tried his best to do or do we let Romney and the Republicans deny the rights to many. It's about how our Supreme Court will look in four years. It's about having peace with Obama or having to go to war with Romney. The choice is yours but you'll regret it if you choose Romney. To see what kind of character Romney is do a Google search for 'Greed and Debt, The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital' and then do a Google search for "Romney, Bain and El Salvador' which shows how Romney helped in one way or another to finance terrorist who killed 75,000 peasants in El Salvador during an peasant protest in El Salvador between the rich and the poor class. Then to see many of the good things that President Obama, Senator McClasky and the Democrats have done for you do a Google search for 'President Obama's Accomplishments'. Then do a Google search for 'My Better America Plan' to see many reasons why Romney and the Republicans are bad for America in many ways. The web page also shows how President Obama and the Democrats saved America.

-- Posted by rebel999 on Sun, Sep 16, 2012, at 3:31 PM

Why wasn't Obama vetted like this back in 2008? Oh yes I'm sure he will save america rebel999. What is your recommendation in bringing down this huge 16 trillion dollar debt more government programs.

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Sun, Sep 16, 2012, at 5:13 PM

I think the debates will really be the deciding factor this election.

-- Posted by non-believer on Sun, Sep 16, 2012, at 6:36 PM

I'm sure a person could do a Google search and find just as many articles that would state why Obama and the Democrats are bad for America in many ways, including one by David Barton titled, "America's Most Biblically-Hostile U.S. President". As a matter of fact, there are four articles on the Opinion page of today's Southeast Missourian that have reinforced my opinion that Obama is NOT good for our country.

-- Posted by countryfolk on Sun, Sep 16, 2012, at 6:44 PM

The only candidate in this election to cut medicare is Obama - he's signed over $700 billion in medicare cuts. Facts hurt, don't they?

-- Posted by Dug on Sun, Sep 16, 2012, at 8:36 PM


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