Obama does deserve plaudits for improving the reputation of America abroad after the war-ridden years of George W. Bush, not least by ending the war in Iraq and recently announcing the end of troop deployment in Afghanistan, for saving the US car industry with a successful federal bailout, for bringing 30 million more Americans into healthcare insurance, for killing Osama Bin Laden, and for pushing down the barriers of homophobia by publicly supporting gay marriage.
‘America will have elected the squeakiest-clean man ever to run for the presidency in any country in the world’
But – and it’s a big but – unemployment is still running at a scarily high 7.8 per cent, meaning 23 million Americans are out of work. Meanwhile, the country’s national debt has risen to a staggering $16 TRILLION, up $5 trillion from when Obama took over. Factor in a still severely deflated housing market, and petrol prices double what they were in 2008, and it all adds up to a pretty miserable economic picture.
‘Forget the flip-flopping… the economy is the big issue and he’s a fantastic businessman’
That’s where Romney can win. His track record as a businessman is better than almost any presidential candidate ever. He also almost single-handedly turned round the fortunes of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002, after the organising committee turned to him desperate for help.
He sees America as a struggling company, and himself as therefore the perfect person to rescue it.
I interviewed Romney most recently in London on the day of his ill-fated remarks about the preparations for our own Olympics. He arrived looking stunned by the reaction. ‘I thought I was only saying what all you guys were saying?’ he said.
‘Ah yes,’ I replied, ‘but it’s a bit like going to someone’s house and saying you don’t like their curtains . . . even if they don’t like them either, it’s not down to you to say it.’ He laughed. ‘I need a Big Mac, fast.’ After that, like the good chameleon that he is, Romney said all the right things.