With a month to go before Americans go to the polls on November 6, the US presidential campaign intensifies on Wednesday at the University of Denver with the first televised debate.
Republican campaign takes a turn for the worst
Last month, Mr Romney’s campaign took a wrong turn when dubious comments emerged in a leaked video. A tape emerged of Mr. Romney speaking at a donors’ event, where he singled out “47%” of Americans as being parasitic loafers. Mr Romney argued they paid no income tax and had a “victim” mentality making them “dependent” on the government. More leaked video emerged last Tuesday, showing Mr Romney saying Palestinians are incapable of making peace, a sharp difference from official American policy. According to Romney’s advisers, these comments are unlikely to have a direct outcome on the election, but they have unsettled Republican grandees on whom the candidate relies for donations and logistical support.
Report: The Relaunch That Wasn’t [The Economist, 22 Sep 2012]
Mr Obama criticises Mr Romney’s remarks
In response, President Barack Obama rebuked Mr Romney for his remarks, saying that anyone running for the White House needs to work for “all Americans”. In a chat show with David Letterman, Mr Obama stated that his rival was wrong to describe 47% of Americans as "victims".
Earlier this week, Mr Romney defended his remarks after the secretly filmed video of a speech to donors became public. Mr Romney stood by his comments about the 47% of Americans who do not pay income tax. He said his statement was "about the campaign" and that those "dependent on government" would not vote for him in November's election. "Those that are dependent on government and those that think government's job is to redistribute, I'm not going to get them," Mr Romney added.
Recent polls indicate that the election is likely to be a close contest. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Tuesday evening showed that Mr Obama enjoyed a slight but consistent lead. His approval rating has hit 50% for the first time since March. The poll also put the president ahead of Mr Romney by 5% among likely voters polled across the nation.
Report: Obama: Mitt Romney wrong to call Americans 'victims' [BBC NEWS, 19 Sep 2012]
Romney to broaden attacks
When Mr Romney announced his candidacy in the summer of 2011, his top advisers stressed the importance of focusing on Mr Obama’s economic troubles. However, polls suggest the economic argument has not worked as well as Mr Romney had hoped. Polls show voters becoming somewhat more optimistic and willing to trust the President -- as much as they do Mr Romney -- on jobs and the economy. New York Times columnist David Brooks still firmly believes Mr Romney’s main focus should be economic growth and debt reduction.
With the presidential debates underway, Mr Romney’s campaign is decidedly changing course. Instead of focusing on Mr Obama’s jobs record, Mr Romney is likely to touch on other issues: energy, health care, taxes, spending and a direct attack on Mr. Obama’s foreign policy record.
The campaign plans to frame the election as a critical choice for voters. Advisers say that Mr Romney is well prepared for his face-off with Mr Obama in Denver this week. In an opinion article published Monday in the Wall Street Journal, Mr Romney recently accused Mr Obama of major foreign policy failures.
According to Ed Gillespie, a senior adviser to Mr Romney: “Whether it’s job creation, health care, energy or debt, the message is we cannot afford four more years like the last four years.”
Aides stress that Mr Romney will continue to press the economic case against the President in Wednesday’s debate. His debate strategy reportedly will include luring the President into appearing smug or evasive about his responsibility for the economy. “It’s important for us to lay out the important contrast, the important choice these voters face, on the issues they care about,” said Kevin Madden, a spokesman and senior adviser to the Republican campaign.
Report: Before Debate, Tough Crowds at the Practice [The New York Times, 28 Sep 2012]