Polls suggest US President Barack Obama holds only a small, perhaps meaningless lead over Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the race for the White House, as he awaits a new jobs report on Friday.
With unemployment remaining high, Romney and Obama are running neck and neck, with no sign that either can break away, as the race enters a final summer lull before the sprint to Election Day in November.
Both candidates are taking a break this week, which includes the Fourth of July holiday, with Romney at his lakeside compound in New Hampshire and Obama at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.
“When it’s a 2 or 3-point race, that’s not good for an incumbent president,” said Republican strategist Rich Galen, who is not affiliated with Romney’s campaign.
“Obama’s political career is totally dependent on [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel holding the eurozone together,” he said.
Obama tomorrow starts a two-day bus tour of Ohio and Pennsylvania, two crucial battleground states that could go either way in the state-by-state contests that decide the election.
Meanwhile, he needs money to compete with Romney. In a leaked recording of a conference call Obama recently placed from Air Force One to top donors from his 2008 campaign, he implored them to match their earlier generosity.
The two campaigns, including their allied political action committees, are matching each other nearly dollar-for-dollar on TV ads in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Virginia and New Hampshire. Romney’s forces are outspending Obama’s in Iowa and Michigan. The opposite is true in Colorado.
An aide on Monday confirmed that Romney plans this summer to visit Israel, a trip that could appeal to Jewish voters and to conservatives who see Israel as a vital military and political ally.
Meanwhile, Republicans worry that Democrats are making headway with claims that Romney supported shipping jobs overseas when he headed a private equity firm called Bain Capital. His campaign says Romney did not oversee the export of US jobs, although Bain at times invested in companies that helped pioneer outsourcing certain jobs to countries such as India and China.
Summer vacations and the Olympic Games might distract voters for the next several weeks, and political and legal activists might keep arguing over healthcare and immigration. However, Romney is staking his candidacy on the claim that Obama has failed on the economy.