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U.S. Democrats in Combat Mode But Face Unemployment Headwind (Le Figaro, France)


"As delegates left on Friday boosted by the battle appeal of their champion Barack Obama, the unemployment figures were hardly encouraging. ... This bleak return to the economic realities of the moment was immediately seized upon by the Republicans. ... But the Democrats at least reached some key objectives this week in Charlotte."


By Laure Mandeville


Translated By Jill Naeem


September 10, 2012


France - Le Figaro - Original Article (French)

The cover of another French Daily, Liberation, on Saturday. The headline reads: 'Can He Win?'

BBC NEWS VIDEO: Man who 'bear-hugged' Obama for buying 20 pizzas speaks to the BBC, Sept. 9, 00:01:20RealVideo

From our special correspondent in Charlotte:


As delegates left on Friday boosted by the battle appeal of their champion Barack Obama, the economic figures [that came the next morning] were hardly encouraging. Unemployment still stands above 8 percent, and the country created only 96,000 jobs in August, below analysts' expectations of 127,000.


This bleak return to the economic realities of the moment was immediately seized upon by the Republicans. “This report is a result of Obama’s failed policies” proclaimed Paul Ryan, Republican candidate for vice president. “The president has no idea what to do. His plan is for four more years of what we've had for the past four” Romney said.  


But the Democrats at least reached some key objectives this week in Charlotte: to defend Obama’s record while trying to demonize the proposals of his opponent; mobilizing activists for the final 60-day sprint; reconnecting the party base with a president accused of being too centrist and too naïve in his attempts at bipartisan negotiations with Republicans, who are more eager to see him fall than find compromise.


Extreme Polarization


On Thursday night, during his acceptance speech for the presidency, Barack Obama distanced himself from the status of messiah transcending partisan boundaries - which he had adopted in Denver four years earlier. The darker and more realistic tone at Charlotte was deliberate. Recognizing with humility his “failures” and promising “a difficult path,” Barack Obama invited voters to trust him again, announcing a plan of action to restore middle class access to the labor market through a massive investment in education and the manufacturing sector and by reducing energy dependence.

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Obama presented himself as the defender of ordinary people and of an America of “shared opportunity.” Democrats believe in free enterprise … but also in “something called citizenship … the idea that this country works when we accept certain obligations toward each other,” stressed the president, defending the need for a role by the state and calling for support by invoking Roosevelt. Essentially, from Obama to Biden and through the majority of views expressed by convention speakers, the prevailing and unhesitating battle cry in Charlotte drew a line between “us and them” - even if Bill Clinton’s plea, above the fray, was intended to rally Democratic centrists. Like the Republicans in Tampa who invoked Reagan, the Democrats appeared to gamble that pulling the troops together a priority above all others.


The Man Who Defeated bin Laden


It is true that in these times of extreme polarization, the number of undecided voters appears lower than before, which makes mobilizing the base at least as important as the battle over the few independents (between 5 and 10 percent of the total). In Charlotte, the Democrats clearly targeted women, minorities, and retirees seeking welfare and veterans. The inclusion of foreign policy in the debate was significant - in contrast to Tampa. Usually on the defensive on this subject, the Democrats clearly see Obama, who defeated bin Laden, as having the advantage over Romney, who is regarded as a blundering novice. 



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But following the back-to-back scheduling of two conventions, observers stressed that it is difficult to measure their impact. The general feeling is that the race will be tight to the end. According to a Gallup poll released Thursday, Obama and Romney are neck and neck, with Obama just one point ahead, 46 percent compared to 45 percent for his opponent. Both face challenges. Still popular, Obama is battling a struggling economy. Less known, and with little charisma, Romney has a resume in his favor, showing he was a businessman and a competent governor, but will hardly serve to erase the image of a man, painted by the Democrats, as cut off from the people who has sold out to Wall Street. 


“I wouldn’t be able to say who will win,” admitted John Zogby, director of an influential pollster. He noted that, “everything can be called into question by bad numbers, a possible Israeli strike on Iran or a relapse of the European crisis.” Kate Baldwyn, a former CNN host, concluded yesterday that the three scheduled debates between the two candidates would be “particularly crucial” this year. 


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Jornal De Negotios, Portugal: Taxes: Warren Buffett, His Secretary, and the Grocer
Gazeta, Russia: America's Young People Turn Against 'Patriotic Bravado'
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Liberation, France: Democracy Crippled: Economics Replaces Separation of Powers
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[Posted by Worldmeets.US Sept. 9, 11:49pm]


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