It is now one month before Americans go to the polls to vote in the final midterm elections of Barack Obama’s presidency. This first preview post will focus on what looks to be the most important and interesting battleground of this election season: the Senate.
On the face of it, not much changed last night. After a campaign in which an estimated $2 billion was spent, the White House, Senate and House of Representatives are all in the same hands as they were when polls opened. But in a greater sense, last night signalled a significant shift in the United States; an important election, possibly even on par with Barack Obama’s monumental victory in 2008.
Watching the vice presidential debate on Thursday night, the informed viewer could not help but be struck with certain impressions about the evening and its differences from its presidential equivalent last week. While last week’s clash saw the Republican challenger take the game to the Democratic incumbent, forcing him into a passive corner, Thursday saw the opposite, with Joe Biden harrying Paul Ryan, challenging his assertions and refusing to allow what he saw as misrepresentations of either side’s policies. It was, as the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald wrote, ‘a pure reversal of the first presidential debate, but on steroids‘.
It is fair to say that the first of this campaign’s presidential debates did not go exactly as anticipated. We were told to expect a policy-light affair, in which the candidates would focus on landing ‘zingers’, and in the end President Obama would win. This did not turn out to be the case. The candidates engaged in real policy discussion, soundbites were surprisingly few and far between, and importantly, unmistakably, Mitt Romney came out on top.
Though the Republican National Convention has been over for a few days now, the speakers moved on to other commitments, and the Democratic equivalent in full swing, it still has an odd, rather incomplete feel to it. The customary bump in the polls which usually follows a convention has failed to properly materialise for Mitt Romney, no real issues of significant substance seem to have arisen, and the candidate even lost the news cycle the next day to an empty chair.
‘Every now and then I’ve been known to make a mistake’. So said Mitt Romney as he placed his arm around his running mate Paul Ryan’s shoulders, a sentiment which few would disagree with, especially after seeing him announce Ryan as ‘the next president of the United States’ mere moments before. Although Romney quickly finished his thought, claiming that the choice of Ryan would not turn out to be another gaffe, those who desire the President’s reelection will be overjoyed, for the selection of Ryan has put the election perfectly on Barack Obama’s terms.
When it comes to international diplomacy, there are few easier trips to make than that of an American politician to Britain. The script is essentially pre-written; the American is supposed to praise British history and culture, engage in relaxed and friendly chat with British political leaders, and claim that the ‘Special Relationship’ is as strong as ever. With the Olympics just starting, the American’s task is made even easier, as he could gain a bit of easy goodwill with some meaningless words of encouragement, speaking of how well the games are sure to go and working in a mention of the Jubilee for added points.
Gettysburg, the site of the bloodiest battle of the American civil war, claimed yet another casualty on Tuesday in the shape of Rick Santorum’s campaign for the Republican nomination. It was here, in his home state, that he chose to announce his withdrawal from the race. While it is quite remarkable that a man with such extreme views has come so far, he was still the second-placed candidate, and most likely alternative to Mitt Romney, should the frontrunner spectacularly implode. It seemed more likely that Newt Gingrich, who has been essentially out of the contest since February, would drop out first. But it was Santorum who terminated his campaign, citing his daughter’s illness as a reason.
While the health of his daughter surely will have contributed to his withdrawal, really Santorum’s decision to pull out of the race comes down to the consideration of three states: Pennsylvania, Iowa and Texas.
Super Tuesday was a long and bumpy night full of highlights and low lights for each candidate that ended in an underwhelming but basically successful outcome for Mitt Romney. In other words, it was like pretty much everything else in the Republican primaries to date.
It was a night that promised so much, but delivered little. All the talk before was of the exciting scenarios that could arise from the voting. Was Romney to land the knockout blow? Was Newt Gingrich to launch a real comeback in the South? Was Rick Santorum going to take Ohio? Was Ron Paul going to win his first state? Ultimately, the answer to all of the above was no; for the candidates, ‘Super’ Tuesday was anything but.
It has been erroneously stated for years that men think about sex every seven seconds. While this is untrue for the general population, when applied to the GOP, it is perhaps an understatement. The past few weeks have seen contraception come to the top of the agenda in the nomination race, Rick Santorum’s major donor Foster Friess arouse controversy by suggesting girls use aspirin ‘between their knees’ for contraception, and even the Girl Scouts coming under fire for promoting promiscuity and the ‘pro-abortion agenda’.