Is Romney throwing it all away?

National polling has Romney and Obama neck and neck, but is the Republican candidate in danger of faltering when he should be sprinting?

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The campaign trail can be a lonely place
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Dr. James Boys
On 19 September 2012 08:57

So here we are with 50 days to go until Election Day and what is the topic of conversation amongst the American chattering classes? The economy? The future direction of healthcare? The correct manner in which to enforce American foreign policy in a volatile era? The viability of the Ryan budget proposals?

No.

With the three scheduled presidential debates looming the attention is once again on Mitt Romney’s inability to remain gaffe-free for very long. The Republican candidate is developing a Dan Quayle-like quality for opening his mouth just long enough to take one foot out and replace it with another.

It could rightly be argued that Romney’s foes in the “mainstream media” are paying undue attention to these faux pas, but in the absence of serious policy debates, there is relatively little else to focus upon.

Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are fighting this presidential election on the issues, despite the very clear distinctions that exist between them this time around. Instead it is being waged, once more, on who is the more likeable candidate and Mitt Romney is losing that battle every time he speaks.

At a time when the United States faces serious challenges overseas, with its deficit the wrong side of an eye-watering $16 trillion and unemployment stubbornly above 8 percent, this could and should have been an election focused on policies and politics, on the competing approaches to alleviating America’s economic, social, and global woes.

Instead it has descended into an American farce, in which one millionaire is accusing another of being out of touch with the electorate. 

Mitt Romney’s latest verbal offering to offend the masses in the media could well prove to be decisive heading into the final stages of the campaign. Romney’s poorly run, poorly defined campaign is now vulnerable to his political opponents’ spin thanks to the contents of a tape-recorded, off the cuff remark made to a roomful of supposed supporters.

It was in Romney’s interest to drag the national debate back to domestic, financial issues, where the president is arguably on weaker ground. However, by his remarks, he may well have surrendered any advantage he previously had in that area.

His overall point, that 47 percent of Americans probably won’t vote for him, may well be true, as is his further point that he desperately needs to reach the 5 percent of independents who will, as usual, decide the election.

Had he said this, in cool, logical terms, then you would be reading something else right now. But alas, Romney went further, equating all of the 47 percent as somehow being delinquents, dependent on the government and contributing nothing to society, determined to vote for Obama come what may.

This will do nothing to endear Romney to anyone beyond the most extreme members of his base and could, indeed, decimate his chances with wavering independents. His remarks reinforce the concept that the United States remains deeply divided after four years of Barack Obama, with little hope of unity in sight.

The Romney campaign was further rocked when a second video emerged in the wake of the initial debacle in which he asserted that peace in the Middle East was “virtually unthinkable,” and that “Palestinians aren’t interested in peace…”

Once more Romney has demonstrated a lack of agility in foreign affairs. His overseas trip this summer proved to be a public relations disaster and failed to succeed on any level to raise his profile in a positive manner.

His remarks in relation to the death of Ambassador Stevens and the attacks on the US positions in a series of nations was equally flat-footed and appeared to reveal a lack of diplomatic prowess.

His latest remarks on the chances for peace, in a region where the U.S. has historically attempted to play the role of honest broker, look set to further reduce the credibility of his candidacy.

In a single day, the individual, personal failings of the Republican candidate for the presidency of the United States, in both foreign and domestic policy, as revealed on a grainy home video, appear set to ensure that Barack Obama receives a second term in the White House, not in a vote of confidence in the incumbent, but as a resounding vote of no confidence in his opponent.

Dr. James D. Boys is a Contributing Editor to The Commentator. He is a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at King's College London, Associate Professor of International Political Studies at Richmond University in London and a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Policy Institute. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter @jamesdboys 

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