Romney, Obama and the mendacity of hope

Judging by the campaign appearances of Republican nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan in recent days, I would expect Romney’s debate strategy tomorrow will be to develop two main themes.

On the domestic front: We’ve heard about hope and change, but it didn’t dig the country out of the economic mire. Are Americans better off than four years ago? No, so give an experienced businessman a chance.

On the foreign-policy front: After four years of the Obama administration, is the world a safer place? No — look at Iran, which is steadily moving closer to having nuclear-weapons capability, despite international sanctions, and the administration’s clumsy response to the 9/11 al Qaeda attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, which left U.S. citizens dead.

In short, forget the Audacity of Hope; Romney is more likely to talk about the mendacity of hope.

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Obama’s challenge, in addition to presentational issues, will be to question Romney’s policy solutions on which the candidate was economical with the truth during the first presidential debate in Denver. The incumbent will not let Romney get away again with “tall tales” on taxation and the budget in tomorrow’s debate in New York. But he also needs to convince people that he is a man with a plan.

The town-hall format may not be the ideal venue for a street fight, if a newly aggressive Obama comes out swinging. As for Romney, his challenge, as ever, will be to demonstrate that he can connect with average voters who will actually be in the room.

Audacity? Mendacity? Which will be on display tomorrow? As for hope, that had already vanished by the time of the last debate.

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