Obama accuses Republican rival of suffering ‘Romnesia’
President Barack Obama turned his rival’s name into an ailment, accusing Mitt Romney of suffering from “Romnesia” for emphasising moderate positions rather than the conservative ones he put forward in the Republican primary race.
Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, has closed a gap in opinion polls with the Democratic incumbent after giving a strong performance in the first presidential debate on October 3, when he sounded a moderate note on healthcare reform and the need for government regulation — highlights of Obama’s platform.
After a lackluster showing in that debate, Obama has delivered fiery retorts since, both in the second debate on October 16 — which many observers say Obama won — and on the campaign trail, with the election looming on November 6.
Obama told a crowd of about 9 000 in the election battleground state of Virginia that Romney has been backtracking on his conservative-leaning promises.
“He’s forgetting what his own positions are, and he’s betting that you will, too. I mean, he’s changing up so much and backtracking and sidestepping, we’ve gotta ... name this condition that he’s going through,” Obama said.
“I think it’s called Romnesia,” he said to hoots and applause from the crowd.
Romney responded at an oceanfront rally with a crowd of about 8 500 people in Daytona Beach, Florida, saying: “They’ve been reduced to petty attacks and silly word games.”
“Just watch it, the Obama campaign has become the incredible shrinking campaign. This is a big country with big opportunities and great challenges, and they keep on talking about smaller and smaller things,” Romney added, saying Obama has “no agenda for a second term.”
The Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll had Obama ahead by three percentage points much of this week. Obama was again on top by 46% to 43% in Friday’s version of the online poll.
Although Obama has lost his large lead in polls in several swing states since the first debate, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Marist poll issued on Friday showed the Democrat ahead in Iowa by 8 percentage points and in Wisconsin by six percentage points.
A PPP survey showed Romney ahead by one percentage point in Iowa, as polls gave few certainties to the outcomes of the race beyond pointing to a likely tight finish.
A CNN/ORC International poll conducted after the second presidential debate showed 49% of likely voters in the battleground state of Florida supporting Romney and 48% supporting Obama.
In an election mainly driven by the economy, new state unemployment data issued on Friday could provide momentum for Obama in some of the most important battleground states.
Unemployment fell in September in pivotal states such as Florida, Nevada, Ohio and Iowa. The jobless rate in Virginia held steady at 5.9% for a third straight month.
At his rally in a northern Virginia suburb of Washington, Obama took his riff on amnesia to great length, describing “symptoms” that coincided with Romney’s positions on abortion and taxes for the wealthy.
“If you say you’ll protect a woman’s right to choose, but you stand up at a primary debate and said that you’d be delighted to sign a law outlawing... that right to choose in all cases — man, you’ve definitely got Romnesia,” Obama said.
“If you say earlier in the year you’re going to give tax cuts for the top 1%, and then in a debate you say, ‘I don’t know anything about giving tax cuts to rich folks,’ you need to get a thermometer, take your temperature, because you’ve probably got Romnesia.”
Obama said his 2010 healthcare law, which Republicans have dubbed “Obamacare” and deride as a government takeover of the $2.8 trillion US health system, is the cure for “Romnesia.”