Obama, Romney head into final stretch of the election

In the next eight weeks, President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, will be battling for the relatively small number of voters who say they are undecided about the Nov. 6 election. Given that the presidential race is a dead heat, the candidates can be expected to go all out to win over a majority of those undecideds.

In so doing, Obama and Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, will be expected to show the American people they can rise above the mindless partisan bickering and political sound bites by answering the following important question: What will you do in the next four years to ensure that all citizens of this country have the opportunity to better their lives.

Although the Republicans during their political convention in Tampa last week sought to make this election a referendum on Obama’s first term in office, it is more than that. Romney must fill in the blanks about his vision, blanks that were glaringly evident when he spoke to his party’s faithful.

Even with his signature issues of balancing the budget, slashing the deficit and creating 12 million new jobs, he was short on specifics.

The worst is over

By contrast, President Obama, in accepting his party’s nomination Thursday evening in Charlotte, made it clear that his second term will be a continuation of the first. The foundation has been laid, and the building blocks for the economic recovery from the worst recession the nation has faced since the Great Depression are in place — and are beginning to provide much needed stability.

The president acknowledged that the recovery will not be quick or easy, because the problems confronting the country “have built up for years.”

But just as Romney and his running mate, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, sought to frame the election in terms of Obama’s failed policies, the president and Vice President Joe Biden made it clear to the American people that the election is about the future.

“You can choose leadership that’s tested and proven,” Obama told enthusiastic crowd, seeking to distinguish his experience from that of Romney’s.

In detailing the actions taken from the time he took office in January 2009 to halt the economic slide that began in 2008 under Republican President George W. Bush, Obama, like other speakers durinh the three-day convention, paid special attention to the federal bailout of the auto industry.

Strong recovery

While Romney is standing firm on his position that General Motors and Chrysler should have been allowed to undergo a managed bankruptcy, the Democrats are celebrating the fact that federal intervention has made the two companies stronger than they have been in many years.

“After a decade of decline, this country created over a half million manufacturing jobs in the last two and a half years,” the president said.

On national security, Obama sought to draw a clear line between him and his GOP challenger.

“Four years ago I promised to end the war in Iraq. We did. I promised to refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and we have. We’ve blunted the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan and in 2014, our longest war will be over. A new tower rises above the New York skyline, al-Qaida is on the path to defeat and Osama bin Laden is dead,” the president said.

There are clear differences between the Democratic and Republican visions for the nation, and over the next two months, the American people will “face the clearest choice any time in a generation,” as the president put it.

This is too important an election for anyone to sit it out.

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