Schoen: Obama and Romney Still Struggling to Make Case with Voters

Tuesday, 03 Jul 2012 04:45 PM

By Douglas E. Schoen with Patrick H. Caddell

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Douglas E. Schoen's Perspective: The Obama and Romney campaigns are each seeking to frame this election as a fundamental choice between their effort and the other’s failed vision and flawed approach to governing.

Yet neither candidate has bothered to present an affirmative case for himself or his policies.

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(AP Photo)
The Obama re-election campaign is well on its way to dividing the country perhaps more than that of any recent presidential candidate. But the Romney campaign has done no better in seeking any sort of unity, conciliation or consensus.

All the while, neither President Barack Obama or former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is approaching this election and its implications in a way that facilitates serious policy development or effective governance — much less bipartisanship.

Despite seriously deteriorating economic conditions, there has been virtually no discussion of the need for a long-term economic agenda that emphasizes tax reform, fiscal prudence and economic growth. There is little talk of the need to rein in entitlements, balance the budget and reduce the debt and deficit.

Meanwhile, recent remarks by the two candidates on immigration and healthcare are emblematic of the polarizing nature of the 2012 presidential campaign.

As both sides fight for the Latino vote in the wake of last Monday’s mixed Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s immigration law, neither Obama nor Romney has presented a clear policy on immigration, or offered any permanent legislative solutions for bipartisan immigration reform.

Obama did not hesitate to declare victory in a speech in Florida on Monday, when he sought to position himself as the champion of Latino voters — without putting forth any broad set of policies to deal with immigration reform.

Meanwhile, rather than addressing the components of the law that were thrown out or, alternatively, upheld by the court, Romney on Monday merely released a written statement that criticized Obama’s failures to “work in a bipartisan fashion to pursue a national immigration strategy.”

Needless to say, Romney has not presented his own comprehensive immigration policy.

Meanwhile, it seems virtually certain that neither campaign will outline a comprehensive set of policy prescriptions in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling Thursday on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

There are new major questions about the implementation of “Obamacare” now that it’s been upheld, but don’t expect to hear a robust policy debate during this campaign.

Obama is more likely to argue that the court’s ruling is a victory for the administration and working people. It’s almost equally likely that the Romney campaign will maintain that the entire law needs to be repealed as an unpopular tax increase on overburdened Americans.

What is virtually certain is that neither side will discuss comprehensive healthcare policy in the context of entitlement reform.

The Obama and Romney campaigns will almost certainly focus more on playing politics and energizing their respective bases, rather than using the ruling as an opportunity to put forth a positive agenda on one of the nation’s leading problems — healthcare.

Douglas E. Schoen is a political strategist, Fox News contributor, and author of several books including the recently released, "Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What It Means for 2012 and Beyond" (Rowman and Littlefield). Read more reports from Doug Schoen — Click Here Now.

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