Beam: Romney down, but he isn’t out

By By Jim Beam / American Press

The presidential race doesn’t look good at the moment for Republican nominee Mitt Romney, according to Charlie Cook, who is

recognized as one of the best political handicappers in the country. However, Cook adds the election isn’t over and things

can still change.

“... If something doesn’t happen to shake up the race, Romney will lose,” Cook said in his latest column in National Journal,

a Washington, D.C., news magazine that covers politics.

Getting an unbiased outlook on the

presidential contest, isn’t easy. However, Cook comes as close as anyone

I’ve known who

writes or talks about national politics. He is a Shreveport native

who is founder of the Cook Political Report, an electronic

newsletter that does political analysis for political action

committees, lobbyists, trade associations and others interested

in behind-the-scenes campaigning.

Cook was in Lake Charles last year as

principal speaker at the Hector San Miguel Memorial Fund Award luncheon.

He predicted

that Romney would win the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

And he added that Romney had the best shot among GOP hopefuls

at beating President Obama.

“It pays to have done something before. Romney has,” Cook said. “The guy has got it down.”

Unfortunately for Romney and the

Republicans, the candidate has had a rocky campaign, and that has

detracted from the state

of the national economy. Cook said last year the economy was

Obama’s major weak spot because of his low job approval ratings.

Obama’s approval rating in a Gallup

poll in late-October of 2011 was 41 percent and his disapproval rating

was 51 percent.

The president’s job approval rating climbed to 50 percent to 44

percent disapproval in a daily Gallup poll done at the end

of last week. Gallup said Obama’s all-time high approval rating of

69 percent came Jan. 22-24, 2009. His lowest was 38 percent

Oct. 15-17, 2011.

“Presidents with approval numbers above

48 to 50 percent in the Gallup poll win re-election,” Cook said when he

was here last

December. “Those with approval ratings below that level usually

lose. If voters don’t approve of the job you are doing after

four years in office, they usually don’t vote for you.”

Cook talked about the economy again in an earlier column last week.

“... While there are plenty of reasons to believe that the economic situation is not getting much better — taking one step

forward, one back — the public seems to be thinking that things are getting better, and in terms of politics, voters count

more than economists,” Cook said.

Obama has been able to sidetrack the

economy as a major issue because he is using Romney’s gaffes to his

advantage. However,

Romney appears to be making a serious effort to put the economy

back at center-stage. Consider what he said last week about

the gross domestic product, which is the market value of all

officially recognized goods and services produced within a country.

“By the way, Russia’s GDP growth is at 4 percent. And we’re at 1.3,” Romney said. “This is unacceptable. The president does

not understand how to get this economy to work for the American people.”

Romney said in one of his TV

commercials that more people are living in poverty than when Obama took

office and that 15 million

more are on food stamps. A Rasmussen Reports poll shows 43 percent

of voters believe a victory for Romney and the Republicans

would lead to a stronger economy next year. Only 34 percent

believe that would happen with an Obama victory and Democratic

control of Congress.

Despite some valid reasons to be pessimistic about Romney’s chances, he can turn things around. Ron Fournier in a Sept. 18

column in National Journal listed five ways “the campaign narrative could turn against Obama.”

“Take a breath, Washington. It’s too early to write off Mitt Romney,” Fournier said, noting the economy is still No. 1.

“Americans are hurting, and the president owns this economy...,” he said.

Foreign policy is another problem for Obama, if Romney can capitalize on “the mess in the Middle East,” Fournier said.

Like many others, Fournier believes the upcoming presidential debates offer Romney the best opportunity to seize the initiative.

The first one is on domestic policy and is scheduled for 8-9:30 p.m. CDT Wednesday.

“... Anything can go wrong in a debate, and Obama is not a perfect debater,” he said.

Obama has made his share of mistakes,

but they haven’t grabbed the headlines and been constantly harped on

like Romney’s miscues.

The president appears to get a pass when it comes to the national

news media. Many agree there is a legitimate fairness issue

in the way Romney is being treated.

Fournier admits Romney is not a good politician, but he said the odds are the candidate’s staff will figure out a way to pull

out of the campaign’s current gloomy outlook.

Time is running short with just over

five weeks to go, but Romney has more than enough time to seize the

momentum. Romney

and his supporters need to do what the 0-3 New Orleans Saints fans

should remember ­— keep the faith and work harder to right

the ship.

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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