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

    Comment number 8.

    As a Brit that has spent less than 1% of his life on U.S soil, I am not really qualified to judge between these two men. All I ask of whoever wins is that they remember 3 things.

    1. The USA is only about 5% of the world population, but what you do does effect the other 95%.

    2. Looking after your citizens does not make you a communist it, just means you care

    4. With power goes responsibility!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    2. Surefooted_1
    Obama is still blaming Bush- when will that end, Year 5, 6, 7?


    Well I'm still blaming Adolf Hitler for WW2 because he caused it. I don't think that will ever change.

    I blame Osama Bin Laden for 9/11. That will never change.

    Since GW Bush was President when the US went from sound economy to basket case, I think he will always be the one responsible.

    There is NO quick fix!

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    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.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    romney is a greater danger to America and the globe, than sandy. good luck America.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    This article says it all. The Republican demographic is dying out. They fail to appeal to the younger members of society and the minorities. If they do get in they will fail to represent the U.S, but that's only because people wont get of there sofas to vote. People are forgetting the rest of the Republican baggage. Always beware of a dying elephant, they cause a heck of allot of mess as they go.


Comments 5 of 84



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