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Beam: Negative campaign down to wire

Last Modified: Friday, November 02, 2012 6:13 PM

By Jim Beam / American Press

The presidential candidates will be campaigning up to the last minute, but over 95 percent of the voters have already made up their minds. Polls have bounced back and forth from President Obama to Republican Mitt Romney during this long and bitter campaign, and it looks like either man’s race to win at this point.

Respected political analysts say Obama appears to have an easier route to the 270 electoral votes needed to be elected. However, less than a dozen swing states still hold the key to victory. We won’t know the final verdict in those states until Tuesday night — or later.

Romney supporters hope the situation is a repeat of the surprise election of Harry Truman in 1948. Newspapers, top polling organizations and political writers declared Thomas E. Dewey would be the winner. Life magazine months earlier ran a cover picture of Dewey with a caption that read, “The Next President of the United States.” Truman had the last laugh.

The Associated Press reported Friday that press coverage of both candidates in the final weeks has been largely negative. Maybe so, but Romney has gotten the short end of the stick.

The study found that 19 percent of the stories about Obama have been positive, compared to 15 percent for Romney. Stories about the president have been 30 percent negative, compared to 38 percent for Romney. The remaining percentages for both men have been mixed.

Obama has based most of his re-election campaign on attacks against Romney, and it’s no surprise Romney has taken so many hits in the media. He stated the case clearly during the third presidential debate.

“Attacking me is not an agenda,” Romney said.

The president continuously harped on Romney’s connection to Bain Capital, his personal wealth and his failure to release all of his income taxes. Obama has also never let up on blaming former President George W. Bush for the country’s economic woes, insisting incorrectly that Romney represents a return to those days.

Bain Capital is an asset management company that determines which companies can survive and which ones can’t when they face financial problems. Some of those companies are shut down when they don’t look promising, but that is simply a fact of business life. Obama has made its work sound devious when it has a successful track record.

The personal wealth and income tax issues have been used by Obama as weapons in his class warfare against anyone who has been successful in the private enterprise field. The president believes big government knows what’s best for the American economy.

As for making Bush the economic bad guy, some prominent Democrats also share the blame. They include former President Bill Clinton, former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.

Clinton supported the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act that separated banking from high-risk financial investments, backed financial deregulation and loosened housing rules. All three helped lead to the economic collapse that occurred during Bush’s presidency.

Dodd was connected to Countrywide Financial, whose predatory lending practices resulted in large payouts for executives while sticking low-income borrowers with mortgages they couldn’t pay back. Frank was tied to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government housing agencies guilty of lax oversight of home mortgages.

Yes, Bush had his economic failings too, but it wasn’t all his fault.

Another Obama theme has been, “Osama bin Laden is dead and GM is alive.” Both are true, but — as the saying goes — is that all there is? GM is alive, but are we supposed to believe that prosperity abounds all across the country?

The middle class is hurting, there are more poor people in this country than there were four years ago, our national budget deficits have totaled $1 trillion a year and our national debt has increased to $16 trillion.

We still don’t know the real story about what happened in Libya when our ambassador and three others were killed. Osama bin Laden is dead, but his al-Qaida group is emerging as an active organization in Iraq and elsewhere.

Romney has been successful in attacking Obama’s economic record, but other issues have often drowned out that message. What we have is a country mired in deep debt, deadlocked in political party squabbles, a health care law with its undesirable features not surfacing until 2014 and millions still out of work and losing hope.

Like 22 million other Americans, I voted early. Romney was my choice because all of these issues are personally disturbing, and it’s time to try someone else. Romney has a successful business track record that may be the answer to the nation’s economic woes. Nothing personal, but Obama had his chances.

Whether we are on the winning or losing side, we can all take some comfort in what George Friedman said in an article he wrote for the Stratfor Geopolitical Weekly.

“The polls say the election will be very close. If that is true, someone will be selected late at night after Ohio makes up its mind,” Friedman said. “The passionate on the losing side will charge fraud and election stealing. The rest of the country will get up the next day and go back to work just as they did four years ago, and the republic will go on.”

• • •

Jim Beam, the retired editor of the American Press, has covered people and politics for more than five decades. Contact him at 494-4025 or jbeam@americanpress.com

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