The US presidential race will see major rallies in Virginia and Ohio this Saturday, a campaign lift-off for the incumbent Democrat Barack Obama.
He is polling seven points ahead of his Republican challenger, even if his one-word slogan, ‘Forward’, has drawn mockery from opponents.
His advantage is attributed to independent voters and some optimism about the economy. However, surveys say that confidence in his ability to create jobs is just two points more than the other guy.
Whether he inherited or created today’s conditions is the stuff of heated argument.
Obama told a gathering of cheering fans: “We have to move forward to the future we imagined in 2008, where everyone gets a fair shot and everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same rules. That’s the choice in this election.”
Unemployment in the US fell to around eight percent last month. The worst during the financial and economic crisis was ten percent, so it is an improvement. But early in 2008 it was five percent. In some places, Newark, New Jersey for instance, it is 15 percent today, but getting a bit better.
Job centre manager Morris Murray said: “Being here on the floor, we see an average of about 300 to 400 people a day and there are a lot of individuals who leave here and announce to us that they have obtained employment. It’s not like the height of the recession where I wasn’t getting that at all.”
Mitt Romney is polling three points ahead of Obama on voters’ confidence in future handling of the economy, and Romney is not giving an inch in his bid to win the White House in November.
Romney told his supporters: “The reason it dropped from 8.2 to 8.1 was not because we created a lot of jobs, as a matter of fact only 115,000 net new jobs were created. The reason it came down was because about 340,000 people dropped out of the workforce. So many became discouraged they stopped looking for work.”
Obama, far from just sitting on his laurels, has sent proposals to Congress on stimulating the economy, which range from incentives to invest in renewable energy technology to fiscal measures to discourage companies from moving operations away, or assistance for people having difficulty paying their mortgages.