By Boaz Bismuth, ISRAEL HAYOM—
President Barack Obama did not deliver the goods, but for the moment, it seems he has earned more sympathy than his Republican rival Mitt Romney. Obama has also recently managed to widen the gap between him and his opponent in swing states like Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Iowa and Colorado.
Yet Romney can feel encouraged, as the first of three presidential elections debates, slated for Wednesday at the University of Denver in Colorado, approaches. In a national survey conducted by The Washington Post and ABC, Obama is leading by only two points, a gap that is identical to that prior to the two major party conferences in Tampa and Charlotte over the summer. Only a major gaffe by one of the candidates in a debate would prevent a tight race toward the finish line on Nov. 6.
Wednesday’s debate is expected to focus on domestic issues. Romney headquarters, CNN reported, is working to lower expectations. In an internal memo exposed in the U.S. media, Republican strategists admitted that Obama is a more talented and experienced speaker, something that is factually true. Incidentally, the same survey gives Obama a small advantage, pointing out that 59 percent of Americans are convinced that the incumbent will prevail over his opponent, while only 34% believe that Romney will win. Until now, Romney’s public appearances have failed, apparently, to convince Americans that he will be a better president.
There is still no reason to eulogize Romney, even if Obama is the favorite. On economic issues, the subject that will likely decide the election, Romney has an advantage in the polls. Even on foreign policy issues, Obama has disappointed. On Monday, an article in The Wall Street Journal hinted that in the second debate, on Oct. 11, foreign affairs, Israel and Iran are expected to feature. Romney also attacked Obama’s Middle East policy on Monday, but that is still not what will decide the next election.
Many people compare Obama to former President Jimmy Carter, not even just among his critics. Many Republicans, however, hope to restore the era of former President Ronald Reagan. Both Carter and Reagan take us back to the debates in 1980, in which Reagan responded to what then President Carter was saying with his famous line, “There you go again,” which tipped those presidential elections. That one sentence was written in the history books and turned that debate into a knock-out.
In a close battle such as that of 2012, every sentence, every reaction and every hesitation could be fatal.