Ronald Kessler reporting from Washington, D.C.
— Mitt Romney will be seen as a Mr. Fix-It and will win the presidency in November, predicts Dave Keene, the former chairman of the American Conservative Union.
Keene is one of the country’s most astute political observers. As far back as last June, Keene told me for a Newsmax story that the Republican presidential candidate was likely to be Romney. After Barack Obama won the presidency, Keene predicted in a Newsmax story that “he can be counted on to overreach, helping to return Republicans to power.”
Keene says that based on historical precedent going back decades, the percentage of people who feel that the country is heading in the wrong direction would indicate the challenger will win. On the other hand, that precedent is offset to some extent by the percentage of voters who support Obama for ideological reasons, no matter what the state of the economy.
“The problem is that in the last couple of decades — and it has been accentuated by the uniqueness of the Obama candidacy — those economic numbers have not meant as much as they did historically,” Keene tells Newsmax.
“If you look at the Obama policies, the group that is being hurt the most by the failure to get things moving are the people who are a part of Obama’s base, principally minority voters,” Keene says. “If you then query them, they are going to vote for Obama even if they don’t have a job, even if they are getting hurt.”
So, Keene says, “It’s difficult to do the traditional analysis that you would do with the numbers or to compare them one on one with the number from a decade or so ago, because they become apples and oranges.”
With that said, the election will be close.
“You are fighting for a relatively small group in the middle, and then you are fighting to turn out your people,” Keene says. While Obama got elected by appealing to independents and others who had turned against President Bush, “Obama has now quickly reversed field because he realizes that he’s not going to get re-elected that way.”
Obama is “going to have to run a base campaign, and so now his full effort is designed to malign his opponent,” Keene says. “That makes his base happy, and maybe keeps some of his opponent’s people from voting. That is not a formula for an uplifting campaign.”
Keene says seven or eight swing states like Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin could go either way. But in the end, Romney will win, Keene says.
“I think that because the economy is clearly not recovering,” Keene says. “If you look at what the president has been doing, none of it really seems to be working. It isn’t making any difference. He can go out and splash billions of dollars to students, he can go and claim credit that he won the war on terror and that it is all over and that someday he is going to bring everybody home; he can go and do all of those things. Then you look at the polls, and it doesn’t make much difference.”
Polls show Obama is viewed as more likeable than Romney. But as Frank Newport, Gallup’s editor in chief, told USA Today, voters view Romney as more capable of handling the economy. “He’s less interested in feeling your pain than telling you how to fix your pain by doing something about it,” Newport says.
“Romney’s positive story hasn’t really been told yet because the media and the president have been attacking him,” Keene says. “If you go back to Ronald Reagan versus Jimmy Carter, Reagan was double digits behind until October. Romney now is even in the polls. The fact that Mitt Romney is tied with the president of the United States after a divisive Republican nomination is significant. He shouldn’t be tied. He should be 8 or 9 or 10 points behind, and he’s not.”
As the election comes closer, Keene says, “Romney can be seen as sort of Mr. Fix-It, the guy that can get the job done.”
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. He is the New York Times bestselling author of books on the Secret Service, FBI, and CIA. Read more reports from Ronald Kessler — Click Here Now.
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