Stage set for Obama to vaunt his achievements
The timing of their convention gives the Democrats an advantage
TENS OF thousands of Democrats will gather in the southern city of Charlotte today to nominate President Barack Obama and vice-president Joe Biden for a second term in office. In addition to their acceptance speeches on Thursday evening, the most awaited appearances are those by First Lady Michelle Obama tonight and former President Bill Clinton tomorrow night.
The Democrats have the advantage of convening five days after the Republicans ended their meeting in Tampa, giving them the last word. Although Obama and Mitt Romney are running neck and neck in voter intentions, a Rasmussen poll last week found that 55 per cent of Americans believe Obama will be re-elected, compared to only 33 per cent who believe Romney will win.
The sluggish economy remains a drag on Obama’s approval ratings, but he far surpasses Romney in likeability, and enjoys a substantial lead among single women voters, Hispanics, African Americans and gays. The calculus of electoral college votes favours him, though “super-pacs” financed by conservative billionaires give Romney a significant financial advantage.
Even the conservative Wall Street Journal complained that Romney failed to present a concrete plan for the economy in Tampa, calling his closing address a “policy-free zone”.
Obama told a rally in Colorado at the weekend that the Republican convention offered “an agenda that was better suited for the last century. It was a rerun. You might as well have watched it on a black-and-white TV, with some rabbit ears”.
Despite Republican talk of “hard truths” and “bold choices”, Obama continued, “nobody ever bothered to tell us what they were. And when Governor Romney finally had a chance to reveal the secret sauce, he did not offer a single new idea”.
But will Obama be able to deliver “the secret sauce” before 74,000 people in the open-air Bank of America Stadium on Thursday night?
Though the US housing market is stirring, unemployment has remained above 8 per cent for 42 consecutive months. No president since Franklin D Roosevelt has been re-elected with such a high jobless rate.
A majority of Americans still blame the former president George W Bush for the poor economy, and Obama aides have constantly argued that the recession would have become a depression were it not for this administration’s policies. But instead of dwelling on the past, as he is prone to do, Obama must describe a vision for the future more enticing than Romney’s promises of low tax and less regulation.
Obama will vaunt his achievements: the killing of Osama bin Laden, the end of the Iraq war, a way out of Afghanistan. He reminded a rally in Toledo yesterday that his $80 billion auto bailout – which Romney opposed – saved the industry, which supports about 12 per cent of the population in the key swing state of Ohio.
Democrats will denounce a dishonest campaign based on what Obama’s senior adviser David Plouffe calls “a tripod of lies”. The task is facilitated by demonstrably untrue statements made by the vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan, including Ryan’s admission that he did not run a marathon in less than three hours, as he had claimed.