Romney keeps digging


FOLLOWING A week that appeared to mark a decisive turn against Mitt Romney in the US presidential election it was remarkable to see the Republican contender on Saturday resolutely defending old ground, digging himself further into the hole that he has made for himself.

Speaking at a fundraiser in San Diego, Romney again lambasted president Obama for fostering a culture of dependency. The message was clear: although he had admitted that his dismissal of “47 per cent” of the electorate which pays no income tax (though most pay payroll tax or are pensioners) as inveterate scroungers, was poorly articulated – not, please note, wrong – the essential message of the campaign was the same. Forget the poor, America’s salvation lies in making the rich richer.

“My job is not to worry about those people,” he had said in the notorious leaked speech to financial backers. “I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

As Jon Stewart observed wryly on the Daily Show, most Americans believed Romney was actually a liberal centrist disguised in conservative clothes to bring his party with him. Now they find out that, under that under a cloak of cultivated ambiguity, he’s a conservative through and through. And they don’t like it. But Romney continues to plough the same furrow.

Polling at the end of the week suggests Obama is now beginning to consolidate a lead. Real Clear Politics’ aggregate of polls gives the president a 48 to 44 lead nationally with a lead in all the crucial swing states, albeit only by 1.2 per cent in Florida. Individual polls give him a stronger lead. A new National Journal/Heartland Monitor poll finds Obama leading Romney nationally by 50-43 among likely voters.

In its review of the likely distribution of electoral votes the New York Times finds some 237 of the 270 needed to win appear solidly in the Obama camp, while Romney can count on only 191, and 110 remain in the balance. Last month, for the first time in four months, Obama and the Democrats raised more than Romney and the Republicans, $114 million to $111.6 million, leaving the former with significantly more in the bank.

Democrats insist the election is certainly not in the bag. Far from it. But there’s a new spring to their step.

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