On the campaign trail, the Republican candidates attack each other but they do agree on one thing: the president is the Other.
—By David Corn
The Republican presidential contest—as it has played out in New Hampshire during the days prior to Tuesday’s primary—has been a battle between anger and outrage. Mitt Romney, the front-runner, gets worked up—in a Brahmin style—that President Barack Obama, a nice enough fellow, is simply not up to task of leading this great nation and doesn’t quite understand the essence of American society. Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul are outraged, absolutely outraged, that Obama is purposefully leading the nation to ruin. The basic choice for Republican voters in the Live Free or Die state: be mad or be damn mad.
At campaign stops, Romney routinely shares his dark view of Obama and the present perilous moment. In Derry, New Hampshire, this weekend, he told a few hundred people, “What frightens me today is that we have a president I don’t think who understands the nature of America—the power of opportunity and freedom. I want to bring these things back to America so we have a brighter future.” And he maintained that the 2012 presidential election is “about the soul of America. Are we going to remain true to the principles that the nation was founded on? Are we going to remain a merit society?” At the first of two debates, Romney warned that Obama “wants us to turn into a European-style welfare state and have government take from some to give to others.”
Romney, a quarter-of-a-billionaire, never explained whether he opposes all redistributive programs—say, Medicare, Pell grants, and the like. But his basic case was that Obama would rather steal your wealth (his wealth?) than trust good ol’ American ingenuity to create more wealth. Obama, Romney declared at that debate, “has put America on a road to decline.” And, he has warned, if you folks don’t stop him, you’ll all end up living in—gasp!—Sweden.