Romney hits flat notes on national stage


The last few weeks have been ugly for Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney.

A flat Republican convention, a fumbled response to unrest in the Middle East, reports of discord within his campaign and a secretly taped video of Mr Romney deriding 47 per cent of US voters have left his team reeling - and has many Republicans fearing doom in the November 6th election.

Moreover, Democratic president Barack Obama has opened a slight lead over Mr Romney in national polls, and new surveys indicate that Mr Obama has a significant edge where it matters most: in Ohio, Virginia and Florida, the most coveted of nine politically divided "swing" states that are crucial to cobbling together the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.

So, seven weeks before the election, is it already over for Mr Romney?

Not yet. Despite the serial gaffes and the many questions about his campaign, Mr Romney remains within striking range of the president.

The former Massachusetts governor still has time to change the trajectory of the race - even though he has not shown an ability to do so for the past several months, as he has cast Mr Obama as a failure in overseeing a struggling economy.

There are three presidential debates in October, and Mr Romney - who during the past month lightened his campaign schedule in favour of debate practices - clearly is pointing toward the showdowns with Mr Obama as a chance to show Americans he is a better bet to turn things around.

Mr Obama remains vulnerable thanks to a stubbornly high 8.1 per cent unemployment rate, tepid economic growth and big majorities of voters who believe the United States is on the wrong track.

"Mr Romney just came out of one of the worst months in presidential politics in recent memory, and he's hanging right in there," Republican strategist Rich Galen said. "If I was one of Mr Obama's guys in Chicago, I'd be thinking: 'What does it take to get rid of this guy?' He won't go away."

Mr Romney still faces huge challenges. Surveys indicate most Americans see Mr Obama as relating to their concerns better than Mr Romney , a former private equity executive with an estimated fortune of up to $250 million (€192 million).

A Republican convention dedicated to humanising Mr Romney appeared to have no lasting impact on voters. The video of Mr Romney denigrating Mr Obama's supporters as not paying income taxes and living off government handouts reinforced Democrats' message that the candidate is an out-of-touch rich guy.

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