News / USA

    Republican Presidential Hopefuls Focus on Obama, Economy

    Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney answers a question as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, left, and Representative Ron Paul, listen during the first New Hampshire Republican presidential debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire,
    Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney answers a question as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, left, and Representative Ron Paul, listen during the first New Hampshire Republican presidential debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire,

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Following their first major presidential debate, Republican White House contenders have made it clear they intend to make the 2012 U.S. presidential election a referendum on President Barack Obama's handling of the domestic economy.  Political analysts say the strategy is no surprise and could make for a very close election next year.

    Seven Republican contenders took part in the presidential debate, and political analysts generally gave the higher grades to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

    Romney has solidified his lead in the polls as the Republican frontrunner in recent weeks and is citing his business background as an advantage in discussing how to revive the U.S. economy.

    "The right way for America to create jobs is to keep government in its place and to allow the private sector and the energy and passion of the American people to create a brighter future for our kids and for ourselves," said Romney.

    Despite his lead in the polls, Romney still faces concerns from conservatives who question his previous moderate stances on issues like abortion, climate change and health care reform.

    Michele Bachmann officially joined the presidential race during Monday's debate and experts said she made a strong initial impression even though less well known that Romney nationally.

    Bachmann has appeal to two important groups within the Republican Party-Evangelical Christians and supporters of the Tea Party movement pushing for smaller government and a repeal of President Obama's health care law.

    "As president of the United States I will not rest until I repeal 'Obamacare.'  It is a promise.  Take it to the bank.  Cash the check.  I will make sure that that happens," said Bachmann.

    Five other contenders took part in the debate including former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, Texas Congressman Ron Paul and Georgia businessman Herman Cain.

    The Republican contenders focused their rhetorical fire on President Obama and not each other, at least for now, signaling they intend to make Obama's handling of the economy the central issue in next year's campaign.

    Recent polls indicate President Obama's approval ratings have slipped slightly after surging last month in the wake of the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

    Political analysts say bad economic news is to blame, especially the recent tick up in the jobless rate to 9.1 percent.

    John Fortier is with the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington:

    "But if there is not much change in direction, four years of bad economic times, even if it started under [former President] George Bush, is a bad sign for the president," said Fortier.

    Fortier spoke on VOA's Encounter program, as did political analyst Stuart Rothenberg.

    "I think we are headed for a real race.  I am assuming that the economy that we see today is going to be something like the economy we see in the summer and fall of 2012," noted Rothenberg.

    The latest polls show only Mitt Romney comes close to defeating President Obama if the election were held today.  But all of that could change in the months to come, says Quinnipiac University pollster Peter Brown.

    "We do not know what the playing field will be like in the fall of 2012," noted Brown.  "Tell me what the price of a gallon of gasoline is.  Tell me what the unemployment rate is.  Is the United States embroiled in foreign conflicts that the electorate is unhappy about?  Those are all unknowns right now that you just can not know."

    Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman is expected to join the presidential field next week and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin is still considering joining the race as well.


    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

    You May Like

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora