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September 9, 2012

Column: Conventions shed inadequate light on candidates

With the political conventions over (is anybody weeping?), it’s on to the debates. Hurrah!

The conventions showed us that Ann Romney and Michelle Obama are two extremely impressive women. We learned that it is not wise to let Clint Eastwood on stage without a script. We learned that having conventions in the South in hurricane season is probably not a good idea. And we found out that Bill Clinton is still a heckuva speaker.

But despite all the hoopla, I personally think we learned very little about how Mitt Romney would govern or exactly what President Barack Obama would do in a second term to juice the economy. And it all comes down to a few swing voters in the middle.

Democrats left Charlotte with a little more wind in their sails (and the best speeches and most enthusiasm overall) while Tampa showed us that the Republicans sort of feel saddled with nominee Mitt Romney. But both parties shored up their bases without winning over those crucial independents.

Obama goes into the last two months before the Nov. 6 election with less money than Romney. Also, Democrats face restrictive new state voting laws that are likely to limit turnout at the polls by minorities, which will hurt Democrats.

The fight to control Congress is just as intense as the presidential race. While Republicans are almost certain to keep control of the House, control of the Senate is much more problematic, coming down to a few tight races such as those in Missouri and Massachusetts.

Obama argues he could have done more to spur the jobs recovery if Democrats had not lost the House to Tea Party activists and if Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky had not vowed the top GOP priority was to deny Obama a second term. Former President Clinton insists no president, not even he, could have repaired in four years the economic damage Obama found when he became president.

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