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Romney faces critical moment at debate



Published: Sat, September 29, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON

With his fortunes in several battleground states fading, Mitt Romney will step onto the stage Wednesday night to debate President Barack Obama in what could be one of his last opportunities to change the dynamics of the 2012 election.

The debate in Denver will be the first of three between the two men and could be decisive, particularly for Romney, who has Republicans worried that his campaign is faltering.

“If he doesn’t get on board soon, there’s trouble out there,” said David Woodard, a South Carolina-based Republican consultant. The stakes for Romney, he said, “keep going up with each passing day.”

The debate comes as the Romney campaign desperately tries to reverse weeks of bad headlines and gloomy poll numbers. Obama has built a national lead and a growing edge in key swing states, notably crucial Florida, Ohio and Virginia.

“Romney’s trailing in the critical battleground states, and this is about the last opportunity for a challenger to level the playing field and pick up a bit of momentum,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.

Debates do matter: 67 percent of those who voted in 2008 said the debates were helpful in deciding between the candidates, according to the Pew Research Center. But this year’s electorate is unusually polarized, and Miringoff said there appear to be fewer undecided and “persuadables” left to convince at this stage of the election.

“Debates have tended to be reinforcing,” he said. “If you like what the Republicans say, you’re going to like what Romney says, and if you like the Democrats, you’ll like Obama.”

The race is far from out of reach, of course. Republicans still see hope. The economy, though rebounding slightly, remains sluggish. Unemployment is still over 8 percent, and the Arab world is newly turbulent.

But time is running out for Romney.

“He has to shape the race in the final 40-plus days,” said Craig Robinson, editor of The Iowa Republican newsletter and the former executive director of the Iowa Republican Party. “He needs to focus on showing the differences between himself and the president, and these debates allow him to go on offense.”

Though analysts say debates are rarely game changers, they can elevate a challenger, simply by appearing on the same stage as the incumbent. White House insiders say the first debate is Romney’s best opportunity, because it will be the first time he appears before the nation on an equal footing with the president.

A few of the presidential face-offs have proved pivotal, including the 1960 matchup in which a telegenic John F. Kennedy bested an ailing Richard Nixon and won the White House. In 1980, the debate was held a week before the election, and voters saw and liked an upbeat Ronald Reagan and turned against a gloomy Jimmy Carter. Reagan surged and won the election.

Romney has dismissed talk that his campaign needs a major reset and says it’s picking up steam.

“People acknowledge the last couple of weeks have been challenging,” said campaign adviser Brian Jones. “At the same time, the campaign is getting back into a rhythm, back on track.”

The 90-minute debate at the University of Denver, starting at 9 p.m. EDT, will focus on domestic issues. Jim Lehrer, the host of PBS’ “NewsHour,” will moderate.

A second debate Oct. 16 in New York will use a town hall-style and will feature questions on foreign and domestic policy from the audience. The participants will be undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization. The third debate on Oct. 22 in Florida will cover foreign policy.

The two vice presidential candidates — Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the Republican nominee — will debate in Kentucky on Oct. 11.

This year’s debates begin after some battleground states already have started voting. Early voting began in Iowa on Thursday, absentee voting is under way in Virginia, and Ohio voters can begin voting Tuesday.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Comments

1greene(167 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

C'mon, gdog4766, the man is running to serve the country; you.

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2jojuggie(1478 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

Romney's sons are not running for the presidency. Obama was never in the military.

From all appearances, gdog is hopeless. Maybe we should pray for him

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3IslandMike(757 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

The biggest thing Obama will have going for him will be the Mitt-Flopper!

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4jojuggie(1478 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

The biggest thing Romney will have going for him will be Obama-Liar & Flopper.

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5andersonathan(671 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

What can Obama defend his record for the last 4 years?

Green energy? talk about bankruptcy and companies being chopped up and moved to China?

GM: jobs saved? parts sold off, jobs lost, Chevy Volt

Unemployment: Record high Welfare?

Middle East?

Seriously Palin could win this debate.

And i double dare Mitt to end with a Birth-er comment, Obama will change colors and walk off the stage.

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6jojuggie(1478 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

Judging from the media coverage, you might think that our economy was improving. You’d be wrong.

The truth is that the slowest recovery on record appears destined to set even more records for slow growth. That’s not good news for President Obama. And more bad economic news hit him this past week. Here's a short list of indicators:

-- Slow GDP growth: GDP rose at an annual rate of just 1.25% during April through June, barely keeping up with the growth in population. The economy has been getting slower and slower since the end of last year.

-- Durable goods orders plunged 13.2 percent in August.

-- Median household income has actually fallen. Income has dropped from $53,718 to $50,678 since the “recovery” started in June 2009.

Despite all this, the news media has been uncharacteristically cheerful the last couple of months. Take some of the newspaper headlines from August, when the unemployment rate had gone up again for the second time in three months, rising from 8.2 to 8.3 percent. The Wall Street Journal headline read: “Job Gains Spark Stock Rally.” The New York Times reported: “Hiring Picks Up in July, but Data Gives No Clear Signal.”

These headlines can’t truly be labeled “dishonest,” but they are misleading. Initial job growth was reported to be 163,000 (later revised downward to 141,000), but the working age population had grown by 198,000.

The media decided to emphasize the small grain of positive news that they could find in the report which was the slight uptick in jobs.

But the press isn’t always so consistent. You won't be surprised to learn that when there is a Democratic president in the White House, the media tend to view things in a positive light. When Republicans are at the helm, they are more negative.

Kevin Hassett at the American Enterprise Institute and I recently studied newspaper headlines from 1985 to 2004. We looked at the percentage of newspaper headlines that were positive when new economic numbers were released. For example, after accounting for the unemployment rate and new jobs and whether those numbers were increasing or decreasing, we looked at the percentage of newspaper headlines for those stories that could be classified as positive, negative, neutral or mixed.

Here's what we found: For the top 10 largest newspaper, for the same types of unemployment news, the headlines were 15 to 16 percent more positive when a Democrat was president.

Today, it appears that the mainstream press is particularly eager to support President Obama. They are bending over backwards to spin the economic numbers in a positive way.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/1...

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7IslandMike(757 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

Unemploment is down

The housing market is UP

PASSED Wall Street Reform

RECAPITALIZED Banks

The Stock Market is UP

Quietly KILLED dictator Moammar
Gaddafi

TOPPLED Hosni Mubarak

Bin Laden is DEAD

GM is ALIVE

The US is OUT of Iraq

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8IslandMike(757 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

I triple dare Mitt-Flopper to make the birther comment, because Obama will tell him his birth certificate is underneath the Flip-Flopper's Tax returns!!

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