The 2012 presidential race – a confrontation anticipated both eagerly and anxiously by all Americans – is about to begin in earnest.  We know that Democrat Barack Obama will try to hold on to the seat he’s filled for more than three years while Republican Mitt Romney will try to wrest it away as he heads up an all-out GOP assault to take over both houses of Congress and the chief executive’s chair as well.

Once they are officially dubbed with the title of “candidate” at upcoming party conventions, the battle will move to the next level of intensity. No doubt it will be a Battle Royale.

Despite what some see as missteps and botched political opportunities (the go-nowhere stimulus packages and the failed “Summer of Recovery,” for example), Obama is still hanging on to many of his supporters.  And despite his best efforts, Romney has not managed to muster an impressively strong pool of backers.  In fact, strategists for both parties say the presidential race is stuck in a virtual tie that probably won’t move decisively toward one candidate or another until the last moment, if at all.

As a result, neither candidate is likely to take big risks to shake up the campaign any time soon, the strategists add. Both President Obama and candidate Mitt Romney are careful politicians who appear confident in and comfortable with their current game plans and have no intention of changing course. This is clearly visible in polls that show the election – at least at this moment – to be a dead heat.

This means Obama will continue to slam Romney as a millionaire out of touch with Middle America, an overly zealous conservative and a former businessman who put profits ahead of creating jobs for everyday people.

Romney is expected to stay with what he considers his strength—attacking Obama for failing to improve the economy, not adequately reducing unemployment and falling short on his promises, including his pledge to end the partisan gridlock and rancorous political atmosphere in Washington.

One thing is certain.  Each candidate must be crystal clear in communicating his stand on the economy. To date, Obama has been fuzzy on this issue while Romney comes across as pedantic. The president uses his combination of charisma and public speaking ability to mesmerize audiences, yet falls short on details. Romney is clearer, but is still dogged by baggage from his term as governor of Massachusetts. Obama’s political ads have drawn heavily from the negative side of that term.

The atmosphere within the Beltway is decided acrimonious.  When presidents like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were in office, they read the handwriting on the wall and compromised (sometimes capitulated) to the opposition to get their legislation adopted. The sitting president hasn’t offered a hand across the aisle, and the challenger’s ability to do so is untested.

Unfortunately, neither Obama nor Romney is a people person.  The incumbent still suffers from fits of thugishness he learned on the mean streets of Chicago, and is said to have a nasty temper along with a non-flattering habit of smoking.  Romney, sort of a fish out of water as a Republican governor in heavily Democratic and liberal Massachusetts, is probably not someone you’d invite to a backyard cookout.  Obama would urge you to have a beer with him – and he’d mean it.  His foe might opt for champagne.

If Romney is going to have a chance, he’ll have to toughen his stage presence and learn to fend off stinging accusations from the incumbent.  Mike Dukakis, presidential candidate in 1988 and, himself, a former governor of Massachusetts, admitted after his loss that he should have taken a stronger stance against George H.W. Bush, who bashed the Bay Stater with accusations that turned his presidential bid into a mockery.

Hopefully, Romney will pick up on the recent events and decisions that have put Obama on the ropes.  The president has used (or possibly misused) executive privilege to protect Attorney General Eric Holder in a move that smacks of Nixon’s Watergate shenanigans. Now, Holder is in contempt of Congress.

Obama has yet to provide answers to his role in the “Fast and Furious” case that appears to show the U.S. arming Mexican drug lords who have killed at least one American border agent.  And the president’s “temporary” offer of legitimacy to illegal immigrants seems like a cruel trick to gain hundreds of thousands of votes with a ploy that he’ll certain end soon after the November election.

While Obama spent the Fourth of July in a campaign bus, Iran was firing off missiles and threatening both Israel and the United States with annihilation.

Yes, let the campaign begin in earnest.  And don’t be surprised to see people turn out in earnest to make certain their voices are heard.

July 25, 2012 

By: Carlo Barbieri