Mitt Romney was a surprise package in the US presidential race. The Republican traditional conservative base found him not conservative enough. His positioning during the campaign was erratic, he was occasionally awkward and made factual errors.
The former Governor of Massachusetts certainly was not the favourite when he set out. Even after he won his party’s nomination, choosing as his running mate Paul Ryan to inspire ultraconservative ideologues, it was hard for Romney to claw even with Obama’s lead. Some analysts felt the game was already almost played out.
Norm Ornstein, with the American Enterprise Institute, said: “There is a lot of nervousness about Romney among Republicans. He has run a poor campaign since he won nomination, there is no doubt about that.”
The Republican nominee for the White House offended his hosts when he visited London, by casting doubt on their security arrangements for the Olympic Games. The media called him a twit and a party-pooper.
He distanced the Palestinians and other Arabs on his reaching out trip to a divided and hotly contested city, with this geopolitical gaffe:
Romney: “It’s a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.”
Debating foreign policy, Romney repeated an error which he had made several times before, ignoring that Iraq lies between Iran and Syria.
Romney: “Syria is an opportunity for us because Syria plays an important role in the Middle East, particularly right now. Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea.”
The former businessman felt better talking about the economy, but he was dropped deep in discomfort when a video was leaked in which he said 47 percent of Americans do not pay income taxes, are dependent upon government, and believe they are victims. The challenger did some hard pedalling after that one.
Romney: “The President’s approach is attractive to people that are not paying taxes. Frankly, my discussion about lowering taxes isn’t as attractive to them, and therefore I am not likely to draw them in to my campaign as affectively as those who are in the middle.”
But Romney was well warmed up for speaking in public, while the incumbent was not. And so, Romney outscored Obama in their first televised debate.
Romney: “My number one principle is there will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit. I want to underline that. No tax cut that adds to the deficit. But I do want to reduce the burden being paid by middle-income Americans. And to do that, that also means I cannot reduce the burden paid by high-income Americans.”
As the rivals went into the home stretch, the severe weather added more unpredictable elements, along with the final pre-election snapshot of employment across the US.