The United States presidential campaign is beginning to heat up with less than four months to go to polling day. And Mitt Romney's got some questions to answer. But the Democrats aren't anywhere near home and dry either.
Over this past weekend, Campaign Obama has begun airing attack ads about Romney's alleged outsourcing of jobs while he was head of Bain Capital. And in response, Romney has done a round of media appearances that have not been entirely convincing. He hasn't totally refuted the allegations that he outsourced American jobs to Third World states like India and Mexico both while he headed Bain Capital and later as Massachussetts Governor.
This comes on top of Romney's botched appearance before the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) late last week in which he roundly stated that we will get rid of "expensive programmes" and all that "free stuff" including Obamacare which has brought health coverage to many more previously uninsured Americans. Romney's statement went down badly with the solidly pro-Democrat, pro-Obama African-American audience. However, Romney's statement was designed to appeal to the rabidly right-wing Tea Party crowd who are still highly sceptical about his candidacy and him personally given that he instituted similar Obama-style health care reforms during his time as Massachussetts Governor.
But Obama isn't completely home and dry either.
His administration has become caught up in the re-emerging global economic storm coming out of Europe and China. After the American economy began registering a significant rebound late last year and earlier this year, global conditions have seen job growth fall back again. In 2008, Obama rode the crest of a wave when he promised change and a return to economic growth. This year, the Republicans have made that flailing promise the number one focus of their attack. In other words, this year's campaign (to use a Clintonian phrase) will be all about the economy (again), stupid.
Ideally, the Republicans should have been making hay over the sputtering economy. However, many Americans don't know a lot about Romney and while right wing Democrats and independent voters might be feeling inclined to switch their votes to the Republicans, they haven't been tempted to make the jump in huge numbers just yet given that factor. And the Obama campaign (which has faltered slightly due to the latest downturn) has begun seizing the opportunity by playing to the worst fears of these swing voter groupings - the loss of jobs and outsourcing.
Not that outsourcing hasn't stopped under Obama's watch either - witness the furore on all sides of American politics when it was revealed last week that iconic corporate American clothing manufacturer Calvin Klein had manufactured the US Olympic team's uniforms in China. All sides of American politics condemned the move but, nonetheless, both Democrats and Republicans have been guilty of ramming through free trade legislation with the likes of Mexico for years. Rank opportunism on the part of mostly corporate sponsored politicians if ever I saw it!
Nevertheless, a re-elected Obama Administration would be the lesser of two evils. From the perspective of this left-winger, a Romney Administration doesn't bear thinking about. And one with Condi Rice (a firm ally of former president George W. Bush) as a potential vice presidential nominee (amongst others) should send a shiver down many global spines!
For all that, I expect a close race between Obama and Romney with the potential even for it to go all the way to the Supreme Court as was the case in 2000. And following the Republican-leaning Chief Justice's defection over the health care legislation ruling, Republicans shouldn't expect an easy time getting a ruling from a court which is otherwise conservative-dominated this time around.
In this 2012 election, anything goes.
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