In a close election everything is important

Barack Obama at a campaign rally in Lima, Ohio 2 November 2012

The hangar-like fairground site was not the most inspiring venue - chilly and bare - but US President Barack Obama has certainly warmed up.

He bounced on to the stage, grinning broadly, grabbing hands and hugging supporters with something like joy.

It is amazing what a few days of crisis management can do. Or maybe it is improving opinion polls.

President Obama's new zeal is reflected in a new speech. The man who wrote it stood by the side silently mouthing the words as the president spoke.

Friday's jobs figures got a passing mention.

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"This morning, we learned that companies hired more workers in October than at any time in the last eight months," President Obama said.

But his message was more general.

"As long as there's a single American who wants a job and can't find one; as long as there are families working harder but falling behind; as long as there's a child anywhere in this country who's languishing in poverty, and barred from opportunity, our fight goes on. We've got more work to do."

'Real change'?

The president's voice is slightly hoarse, but he is now pounding his message, the repetitive rhythm familiar to many from Sunday services, roaring with a preacher's passion.

"I'm not ready to give up on the fight. I'm not ready to give up on the fight to make sure that the middle class is growing. I'm not ready to give up on the fight to make sure every child has opportunity."

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who held a big rally in Ohio tonight, does not scale these rhetorical heights, nor does he seem to have the same confidence that he had a week earlier.

He makes a point that he is not about words but deeds. He tells his audience that President Obama has clearly failed.

"He said that the unemployment rate would now be 5.2%. Today we learned that it is 7.9% - it is 9 million jobs short of what he promised," Mr Romney says. "Unemployment is higher today than when Barack Obama took office."

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And Mr Romney says he is the man to make a difference: "This is why I am running for president. I know how to change the course the nation is on, how to get us to a balanced budget and how to build jobs and rising take-home pay.

"Accomplishing real change is not something I just talk about - it is something I have done. And it is what I will do when I am president of the United States."

Although pundits and politicians pore over the monthly jobs figures, I am not sure how much impact they make. Most people are likely to look to their own experience.

Friday's statistics indicate what we all know: there is a recovery, but it is very slow.

But this close to such a tight election, everything is important. If one of the candidates' multiplication of figures by rhetoric adds up to just a handful of votes, that could equal victory.

The BBC will be providing full online live results of the US presidential election on 6 November. More details here

Mark Mardell, North America editor Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    11. Espiando
    Why not stay and work for a better US? No matter who wins, problems like the economy and the national debt are not going to be solved in the next 4 years (and there are many other serious problems that will not fit in my 400 characters). My opinion is that our troubles will be resolved quicker with Obama and like-minded leaders at the helm. With Romney, it will just take a lot longer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    10. random alias "Romney's...he is sincere...constant message in harmony with his core principles & values." Oh yes, so constant, he is pro-choice, no he's not, he's going to keep troops in Afghanistan, no he's going to have them out by 2014 just like Obama. Coal kills, no restrictions on Coal, defund FEMA, keep FEMA, do away with Dodd Frank, keep some unspecified parts of Dodd Frank - constant?

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    #10.random alias
    "you give Obama too much credit and Romney too little for the power of their rhetoric"

    I find Romney an unexciting speaker who tries to argue from the facts. His words more closey approximate the truth, but he cannot compete with the Obama propaganda machine. Like the ancient Greek sophists, Obama (Blair-like) sets the agenda for & shapes media & public opinion. Too bad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    I'm a lifelong Democrat, a University of Chicago man like our president, and I live only a short drive from Paul Ryan's district in Wisconsin and can see that he's brought nothing to his constituents. If Romney wins, next Wednesday I'm going to the British and Canadian consulates in Chicago to check out immigration requirements. I refuse to live in a theocracy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    DavidinUSA, you give Obama too much credit and Romney too little for the power of their rhetoric. If Obama was, as you say, "fully capable of shaping public opinion" this election wouldn't even be close. In fact, we see Obama struggling. Romney's lack of polish wouldn't be a problem if people could see that he is sincere, speaking a constant message in harmony with his core principles and values.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Obama's enthusiasm in speaking of hope for our nation to move more toward equality of opportunity, may be buoyed by the fact that his rhetoric is consistent with the policies he's advocated.

    When Romney claims: "I know how to get us to a balanced budget... how to build jobs and rising take home pay...." I wonder: after six years of running for president, why hasn't he shown any credible plan?

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Republicans are livid that president Obama is doing his job in the both the lead up to and aftemath of hurricain Sandy. They almost accuse Obama of having created the hurricain for his own benefit. They also seem tightmouthed to the point of suffocation in reaction to the praise that both Republican Governor Cristie and Mayor Bloomberg have given Obama for his handling of the crisis. Tough!

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Sandy costing Americans 50 billion dollars or more has done a good thing to Obama to make him look like he cares and looks presidential. American voters can either be impressed and vote Obama or blame it on Obama for being unlucky to preside over the misfortunes. Americans deserve a lucky person to be president and share the president's luck.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    It has been strange that throughout this campaign and especially towards the end, the BBC has failed to pick up on, report or even mention the suppression of voters in key swing states as is going on in Florida and numerous other swing states in America. If all these voters were able to come out and vote, this election would have been decided. If it was anywhere else it would make front page news!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    More lessons from Plato:

    Socrates was killed by the Athenians for telling the truth. But the professional dealers in deceit and half-truths, and the rhetorical manipulators of the public prospered (& eventually led classic Athens into doom).

    This augurs well for Obama's success in the election - he is a true master of rhetoric, fully capable of shaping public opinion & ensuring victory.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    'Barack Obama has certainly warmed up. He bounced on to the stage, grinning broadly, grabbing hands, hugging supporters with joy. It is amazing'

    'Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, does not scale these heights, nor does he seem to have the same confidence'

    Have you got the message from the BBC yet?: GET OUT THERE AND VOTE FOR BARRY OBAMA!! Wonderfully impartial reporting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    I can't help referring back to Plato's analyses of politics and rhetoric.

    Plato's portraits of sophists like Gorgias resemble Obama, insofar as they use rhetorical tricks & shadowy half-truths to manipulate the public.

    Romney is an unideological, even simple-minded, businessman and he simply doesn't have Obama's canny methods of shaping public opinion. Probably Obama/Gorgias will win.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    '..pundits and politicians pour over the monthly jobs figures..' Pour what? Scorn? Gasoline? Oh, PORE!! C'mon Mark, a BBC correspondent's got to do better than that!

  • Comment number 1.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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