The strange Sandy-coloured campaign

 
Mitt Romney, en route to Illinois, 29 Oct Mitt Romney - en route to Illinois

When the day began it was almost a normal campaign here in Ohio; now, with huge winds and rain lashing down, what became the strangest campaign in modern history has ground to a halt.

As Mitt Romney wound up his speech at Avon Lake High School, word went round the media pack, penned in behind barriers from the crowd of bellowing supporters, that his campaign was cancelling any more events on Monday, suspending for Tuesday as well.

It seemed a logical response to the oncoming storm; in the same way that the Republican National Convention delayed its start because of a tropical storm travelling up the Gulf Coast, it was inconceivable that Mr Romney should continue campaigning while death and destruction was wreaked upon the Atlantic Coast.

The rally was fascinating; the crowd of around 3,500 was seriously fired up, whooping and applauding at every mention of Mr Romney's name. Chatting to Republicans beforehand, there wasn't hysteria about their prospects, but real confidence that things are moving their way - a sea-change from a week before the first presidential debate, when Republicans I talked to were already plotting whom to blame when they lost the election.

As is so often the case with Republican gatherings, the crowd was overwhelmingly white, and predominantly middle aged (or older). There's nothing wrong with that in itself - I plead guilty to both. But it is noticeable that in one of the most heterogenous societies on Earth, the Republican party attracts almost no overt support from ethnic minorities and fails to attract a whole lot of interest from those under the age of 40.

As for Mitt Romney, he seems curiously unaffected by the enthusiasm which now surrounds his campaign. Within minutes of him turning up on stage, the students who had come for a look at the man who may be the next president of their country were chatting to each other or checking their phones.

Mr Romney gave his standard stump speech, laying out - eight days before the vote - not a vision of what the US might be like under his leadership, but instead how he would cut corporate tax rates and scrap deductions and loopholes to pay for it.

But Republicans seem unfazed by their resolutely wooden candidate. And swing voters don't appear to mind too much either - indeed, some like the fact that the high rhetoric and lofty promises of the 2008 campaign have been replaced, at least by Mr Romney, by a drier, more technocratic approach.

"Everyone says Mitt Romney is not a likeable person," Brian Leonard, a former Obama voter, told me in Chicago last week (you can hear the full report here).

"Well I'm not voting for Mitt Romney to be class president. I'm voting for him more because we need to get things done."

It all seems a bit underwhelming given the scale of the problems that America faces, and the importance that both sides ascribe to the upcoming vote; but that's the campaign that the country has right now.

Or had, until Sandy roared in. The campaigning is not quite over. Faced with a total media vacuum, Mr Romney's campaign has found a way to keep him in the news without actually having him hustle for votes while the Atlantic seaboard gets pounded. His team is holding a storm-relief event on Tuesday in central Iowa.

 
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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 84.

    @75.mbco1975
    @Andy_Pandy1968
    GW Bush was President when the US went from sound economy to basket case, I think he will always be the one responsible
    -
    You are conveniently ignoring the fact that it was Clinton that repealed the Glass Steagall Act

    Clinton got elected by adopting a neo-liberal economic agenda as Blair did here, everyone in power back to Reagan/Thatcher shares culpability,

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 83.

    82. Jay
    I don't support the GOP's policies, so I will not come to their defense. I only point out changing trends. These trends will make it harder for a candidate's race to be an indicator of anything - including who will vote for them. I do think your assertions about Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley's ethnic pride are in bad taste though. It is precisely what is wrong with mixing race and politics.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 82.

    @ indy_comment (81). GOP stopped being a serious political party and became more like an activist group with sole goal of white supremacy and fundamentalist orthodox Christianity.
    All those Indian origin GOP leaders (including Nicki & Bobby) are (converted) Christians and hardly proud of their Indian heritage.
    Moreover only 6 Blacks are nominated in Congress by GOP since 1921, while 99 by Dems!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 81.

    2010 Republicans won elections for female, Hispanic-American, African-American and Indian (Asian) American candidates as governors, congressmen and senators. If Romney loses they probably will nominate the first Hispanic for president (Marco Rubio) or the first Indian-American (Bobby Jindal). They also got 38% of the Hispanic in 2010. In the near future, race will be a poor substitute for policy.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 80.

    It's a shame no one appears to have asked either candidate why NY is getting so much attention so quickly when there was nothing like this response when New Orleans was hit a few years ago. Don't mistake my point - it's right there should be an instant reaction to help NY etc, but why was there not one for N.O? The need was equally pressing - but there was no election imminent was there?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 79.

    Republicans are still stuck in the past as reflected in their lack of diversity.Romney may be a successful businessman, generous to his family,capable of 1 or 2 random acts of kindness,he has said that he doesn't care about the very poor. He told college students to borrow from their parents. He is unfit to be president. A president must care about all, not only a handful & very rich Americans.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 78.

    Mitt says- "It's part of the American spirit, the American way, to give to people who are in need, and your generosity touches my heart".

    REALLY?

    "To give people who are in need"- touches your heart?

    I'm now confused again! Probably Mitt's heart really touches the "people in need" but his control over heart is far less than his brain (with "business experience") and bank accounts!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 77.

    I'm not sure if the GOP can understand the importance of a strong government, strong oversight of public policies to protect the most vulnerable & general public, once the storm is over and we re-enter the "business usual" phase.
    GOP's rhetoric against "big government" will soon be forgotten as it happened during GOP & Bush era hurricane Katrina and post-relief (rather lack of it) disaster.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 76.

    Those leaning republican want a candidate that will truly be fiscally conservative. Those leaning democrat want a candidate that will protect civil liberties across the board without bias or political timing.
    All Americans need a candidate who is truly for peace - not drone warfare and Gitmo. Vote Gary Johnson to 5% and force the 2 party system to define their true agenda for your dollars in 2016.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 75.

    @Andy_Pandy1968

    You are conveniently ignoring the fact that it was Clinton that repealed the Glass Steagall Act stating that this would (and I quote):

    "enhance the stability of our financial services system” by permitting financial firms to “diversify their product offerings and thus their sources of revenue”

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 74.

    Unlike "W", Romney isn't a clueless half-wit hell bent on helping his advisers "best" mates, he's bright enough to help his own best mates keep more of their money.
    The USA is not about "Equality", "Freedom", "Democracy"; it's voters are swayed by "Greed", "Self Interest" and "What looks good on TV". So they are just like the rest of us really.
    Personally I wouldn't vote for him, if I had a vote.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 73.

    69.Chris
    It is very clear that Romney is an extremely dangerous choice for almost every human being on the planet."
    **
    Possibly not so much for unborn children...

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 72.

    @Rich 59

    glasgow would be fine, we already had "hurricane bawbag" which was about the same strength wind wise, rain?? we're experts. i think the fact we're further above sea level than NY makes a difference. nothing closed we just put our jackets above our heads & practiced amatuer paragliding by jumping off stairs. liverpool & london would be doomed though

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 71.

    Only blue states were hard hit by the storm. I don't think it will have much impact, beyond more air time for the president. All third party candidates and their messages, will continue to be totally ignored by the press, unless they are derogatorily can be labeled as a 'spoiler' in the swing states come Nov. 6th.

    As for 'war mongering' and American imperialism - that's guaranteed no matter what.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 70.

    Hurricane Sandy sounded like the quiet storms of the 1980s. Hurricanes Floyd and Ivan were twice as loud. The November 6 presidential election will begin a move against the paranoia of the Bush-Obama Administrations and their anti-trade policy for technology with export bans (www.federalregister.gov).

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 69.

    It is very clear that Romney is an extremely dangerous choice for almost every human being on the planet. Romney offers the same solutions that republicans always offer: Supporting big American business with tax breaks (the same businesses that have helped destroy the banking system) and war mongering, are so incredibly damaging for the world in a way no big storm sound ever match.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 68.

    I really don't thing the storm will have a bearing on the election as most voters will already have made up their minds who is their preferred candidate. The only problem may be how quickly the affected areas can get back on their feet to reasonable degree before election day.

    If either candidate tries to make politcal capital ot of the stiuation is it could spell disaster for them.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 67.

    61 agreed. I just feel the world is suffering from roo much politics and too much polarization. In adversity the mask slips and state and federal politicians are to be congratulated on their efforts. Editorial change overnight, so I guess the channel got the message. I hope you are all safe in NJ and services return ASAP. Hoping London and UK will deliver all possible support and assistance.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 66.

    I find your comments most interesting and somewhat of a different perspective than the information we get here in the States. We don't see Romney as wooden, but rather a business person who is a problem solver. He is very different than our Pres. who is promised so many things and did not follow through. I am concerned about what happened at the Libyan embassy, and the economy.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 65.

    14.Dan
    "If you're rich, white, straight, male, have health insurance & don't give a damn about anyone else, Romney is great candidate. For anyone else, a Romney presidency would be disastrous. I'm hoping & praying that Obama pulls it off & wins, or else the US is screwed."

    Don't just think that the US will be screwed, it will have a detrimental effect on the rest of the world.

 

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