On the U.S. campaign trail, things will only get nastier

There will be blood — all the way to Nov. 6


(Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

The cover story in this week’s Maclean’s argues that Mitt Romney can win the presidency. Author Luiza Ch. Savage is right: While Canadians fixate on Barack Obama and his meteoric rise to power, the Republican standard bearer is within the margin of error in most national polls. His choice of Paul Ryan may have re-energized the conservative base both organizationally and financially.

Speaking of money, Romney is building a comparative advantage over Obama. With the rise of Super Pacs, campaign funds will play a larger role in this campaign than in 2008, especially as things kick into high gear during the final 60 days before the vote. Big Money close to former Bush operative Karl Rove and the billionaire Koch brothers won’t spare Obama any punches (including those under the proverbial belt).

The case for a Romney-Ryan win, though, has much to do with the economy. While Obama’s record is far from the unmitigated disaster the GOP describes, the unemployment rate is stuck at 8.3 per cent and the recovery remains sluggish. With three more job reports (September, October, November) before ballots are cast, it is safe to bet the economy will remain the No. 1 issue of the campaign.

Fiscal troubles at all levels of government are a major headache, but with the recovery slowing and Europe threatening to implode, chances that things will start to look up before November are thin. The debate over taxes, spending, the future of Medicare and Medicaid, the possible impact of Obamacare on job creation, and the general conservative narrative about Washington and overregulation all but assure the Obama administration is in for a rough ride.

There’s still a very concrete possibility of a second Democratic term, of course. Swing states, after all, still poll in favour of Obama. The president leads in Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Colorado. Obama also enjoys the benefits and aura of the incumbent, who can set the agenda and make his case to the people from the highest of pulpits. So far, he has been maximizing this advantage.

As we approach the convention season (Republicans next week, the Democrats a week later), greater scrutiny will be directed at what each ticket will propose in terms of policies, and on the character of the candidates.  While issues and policies usually dominate, expect personality politics to emerge as a decisive factor.  Here, Obama may have a distinct advantage.

When Romney declared in 2011, one would have expected him to be the more moderate and reasonable conservative he was in Massachusetts. Considering the nature of today’s Republican Party, Romney was forced to run from his moderate record as governor, adopt social conservative and neo-conservative policies that seem out of the mainstream, and emphasize his record as a corporate executive at the company he founded, Bain Capital.

With fewer than 100 days to Nov. 6,  Romney’s narrative remains somewhat of a mystery. The controversy over his tax returns and his overseas accounts along with the attention Paul Ryan’s past writings and actions attract, make it even more difficult to get to know the real Romney. This indirectly influences his economic message.

Still, the election is  too early to call and there will be a fight to the finish. The new politics promised by Obama in 2008 have given way to hard- knock, Chicago-type politics. The Republicans have been known to engage in more, ruthless hardball politics than the Democrats.  However, judging by Obama-Biden campaign tactics so far, and the fact the  GOP ticket  has begun to whine, this  campaign will become nastier.


On the U.S. campaign trail, things will only get nastier

  1. The media wants it to be a nail-biter, but it’s not really.

    The last 100 days are the worst. Not only are elections way too long in the US, but the ‘final crunch’ gets more and more absurd, and nothing else gets done.

    Everyone will be glad when it’s over.

  2. “The controversy over his tax returns and his overseas accounts”

    To call it a controversy shows immediately your partisanship. There is no controversy. It’s simply one side (the Dems) hounding the other side (the Repubs) to hand over more private information. There is absolutely no evidence, anywhere, anyhow, of any wrongdoing on Romney’s part.

    • Then he won’t mind doing what everyone….including his dad ….did, and handing over his tax returns

      And no presidential wannabe should be hiding money and evading taxes overseas.

      Nope, it’s not in the least controversial….it’s a flashing neon sign.

    • “There is absolutely no evidence, anywhere, anyhow, of any wrongdoing on Romney’s part.”
      You are so right. And that evidence (i.e. tax returns) will stay securely locked down in the deepest, darkest bunker of Willard’s mansion (pick one).

      • Sort of like Valerie Jarrett’s insider real estate deals that made her a millionaire. And Geithner’s forgetfulness to pay taxes. And Daschle’s failure to pay taxes. Seems like tax fraud is a theme in that administration. And John Kerry rigging his boat in Rhode Island to escape taxes. And Blagojevich’s attempt to sell Obama’s vacated senate seat. And Reid’s ascendancy to a multi-millionaire despite working in the public service his entire life. And Pelosi’s insider trading. How about Obama’s DWI uncle? Or perhaps his illegal alien on welfare aunt? Both residents of Massachusetts. And Obama’s fundraisers Rezko and Ayers, both hard criminals. And then there’s Holder sending free untracked guns to Mexico that have killed many Mexicans and a US border agent, followed by Obama covering it up.
        Oh wait, all those friends of Obama were caught, because they actually did those things. Nevermind.

        • Are you mentally challenged, or just obtuse? Conflating Willard’s refusal to release tax returns (standard stuff for any candidate to do) to falsehoods / rumours about people with varying degrees of association with Pres Obama is a spurious argument with no basis in fact. And l love that you bring in an uncle and aunt into your argument, proving what exactly?

          Willard refuses to release more than the past 2 years of tax returns (and only 1 year so far). Most presidential candidates have released 10 years worth of returns. There is evidence that Willard put money in off-shore and Swiss accounts. Their are questions of his actual tax rate, and whether he came clean on the secret Swiss bank account amnesty that the feds brokered in the recent past. He can clear that question up pretty fast by just releasing 02-11 returns. That he will not, leads most reasonable people to question his motive.

          If you want to come on here and basically state “I love Willard, and hate Obama”, fine. But don’t make such a weak, unsubstantiated argument and act as if it has any basis of fact.

          • I’m waiting for you to actually provide an argument before I expand on mine. Just because you can’t understand much of anything doesn’t mean you need to blame it on others. Lots of people have offshore accounts, including Obama. It’s easier to bank that way, don’t you know. As for the rest of it, it’s the usual conspiracy theories that people like you would like to rant about rather than talk about Obama’s shitty economy, his putrid health care law and the fact he’s got nothing to run on.

          • Obtuse it is.

  3. SuperPACS are contributing to the Obama campaign as well. The teacher’s union and SEIU
    are huge donors to his campaign. the fact that Obama is losing in the money raised category might be the stark realization, even among the most ardent liberals, that the great social experiment could be an abject failure.
    Obama will continue to promise the moon in give aways in order to try to secure the vote of the non productive segment of society. While Romney has moved somewhat to the right, his ideas are not out of the mainstream.
    Unemployment is truly in the 15-16% range when the people that have fallen off the unemployment rolls and the cronically underemployed are taken into account.
    Contrary to what the MSM would like everyone to believe, this election is going to be a referendum between the average American and the uberleft policies of the present regime.

    • “Obama will continue to promise the moon in give aways…”

      Whereas the Republican ticket hasn’t promised any giveways in order to…. oh, wait… unless you count unfunded tax cuts. .Huh. And of course, the Republican tax cut bonanza disproportionately benefits the rich, as Republican things tend to do.

      But somehow you don’t count those as “giveaways”, right? It’s only bad when Dems do it.

      By the way, Plus 1 for “uberleft”. Sounds like something out of a manifesto.

  4. Nope! No contest – do the electoral college math and it becomes clear that a Romney win is not probable.

    This is almost a do over from the 2008 election. Ahem, here we go…
    1. Flawed Republican candidate wins the nomination over other seriously flawed (and sometimes crazy) candidates.
    2. Said candidate is not really liked by the ravening, crazy nutjob base that the GOP has become.
    3. Feeling desperate, the candidate picks a mavericky, seriously flawed VP to solidify his base and create passion/momentum.
    4. Said VP distracts from the candidate, creates problems with their views, and ultimately makes the candidate look weak (as well as outshining the candidate).
    5. People slowly begin to question the candidates reasoning and decision making skills.
    6. Democratic candidate (incumbent President now) wins popular vote and the electoral college by a good percentage.

    This works both as a future predictor (Nov 6, 2012) as well as a rationale for historical GOP failure (2008).

  5. “The new politics promised by Obama in 2008 have given way to hard- knock, Chicago-type politics.”

    Correction: “The new politics promised by Obama in 2008 always were, and continue to be, hard- knock, Chicago-type politics.”

  6. For those interested in controversy and for the sake of balance, why don’t the media undertake an all-Biden, all the time reporting effort to match the one they deployed against Palin in 2008?

  7. I’m a new voice voice to the mix who has, up to now, been silently taking in these exchanges on campaign strategies, tactics, prospects and Parisella’s obvious bias in favor of Obama and the Democrats. He keeps alluding to the influence of Super Pac $ and the unfair advantage Republican supposedly have in this area. 1uscanuck got it right earlier when they pointed out just as significan trade and teachers union support behind the Democrats. If we want to talk about unfair and undue influence, let’s talk about the influence of biased media. The mainstream networks (NBC, CBS, ABC) claim and try to show no bias; however, a clear leaning towards the liberal left is readily apparent. FOX makes no bones about supporting and defending the conservative right; arguing that the liberal bias of the mainstream media requires a conservative counter voice. CNN on the other hand can only be described as pathetic. They claim to be a purely, unbiased news network. Yet at all times painting most everything about Obama and the Democrats as rosy and most everything about Romney and the Republicans as negative. When was the last time you listened to Soledad O’Brien, Anderson Cooper or Wolf Blitzer. Unbiased, c’mon! Thank God at least for Piers. If Parisella thinks SuperPac $ are exerting an undue influence on the election outcome in favour of the Republicans, GOOD!! It’s only fair in offset to the overwhelming media bias in favour of the Democrats.

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