Clinton factor pushes Obama ahead with two months until America votes

 

The two rivals for the White House plunged into the final two-month stretch of the presidential campaign at the weekend, with early polling suggesting that the post-convention boost that failed to materialise for Mitt Romney may be doing so for Barack Obama in the wake of his party's gathering in Charlotte.

Republicans sought to play down any new momentum for the other side, going so far as to suggest that voters were impressed not so much by Mr Obama, who drew mixed reviews for his speech, but rather by former President Bill Clinton, who had raised the roof the day before.

"He did stand out in contrast with the other speakers," Mr Romney said in an interview with NBC. "I think he really did elevate the Democrat convention in a lot of ways and frankly, the contrast may not have been as attractive as Barack Obama might have preferred."

That Mr Clinton has serious lifting power is something Camp Obama won't hesitate to capitalise on, however. They are sending the former President to the crucial state of Florida early this week. Mr Obama spent all the weekend on a bus tour through the state, at one point dropping in at an Orlando bar and trading jokes with patrons watching an American football game on television.

Showing some connection with ordinary Americans is particularly urgent for Mr Romney, who appeared at a Nascar race in Richmond, Virginia, at the weekend. He is hampered by his wooden style and the fact of his enormous personal fortune. It was problem that Ann Romney, the candidate's wife, picked up on a television interview, saying her husband had been "demonised" by the other side.

"Mitt and I do recognize that we have not had a financial struggle in our lives," she said on NBC. "But I want people to believe in their hearts that we know what it is like to struggle. And our struggles have not been financial, but they've been with health and with difficulties in different things in life."

It will be a few more days before the full impact of the Charlotte convention becomes clear but a Reuters-Ipsos poll at the weekend showed Mr Obama widening his lead over his opponent with voters choosing him 47 to 43 per cent. "The bump is actually happening. I know there was some debate whether it would happen... but it's here," said Ipsos pollster Julia Clark.

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