Presidential rivals play on ‘common touch’ credentials
White House rivals Barack Obama and Mitt Romney ended the first weekend of serious campaigning for November’s presidential election with attempts to play up their “common touch” credentials.
Mr Romney, the newly declared Republican Party challenger, and his wife Ann “know what it is like to struggle” despite their great wealth, Mrs Romney insisted during an interview yesterday on NBC’s Meet The Press, in which she fiercely defended her “demonised” husband.
President Obama, meanwhile, was appearing in his shirtsleeves in a Florida bar, drinking beer and talking to families while cracking jokes.
It was a relaxed start to a campaign that began in earnest last week after both candidates were formally adopted at their respective parties’ national conventions.
Mr Romney appeared alongside his wife during yesterday’s television interview to defend his stance on healthcare, and particularly his opposition to the sweeping reforms contained in the president’s flagship Affordable Care Act.
“Well, I’m not getting rid of all health care reform,” Mr Romney said, an apparent contradiction to his often-stated pledge to repeal the act in its entirety if he was elected.
“There are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I’m going to put in place. One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage. I say we’re going to replace Obamacare. And I’m replacing it with my own plan. ”
It was Mrs Romney’s comments however, during the interview and while introducing her husband at a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Saturday, that were more clearly designed to present him in a softer light.
Mr Obama has repeatedly portrayed his opponent as a wealthy and ruthless businessman out of touch with the country’s working and middle classes.
“It’s so important that people understand that Mitt and I do recognise that we have not had a financial struggle in our lives,” she told Meet The Press host David Gregory.
“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.”
Mr Obama, meanwhile, was raising chuckles on a two-day tour through Florida, a swing state crucial to his hopes of re-election. At the Gator’s Dockside sports bar in Orlando he sang Happy Birthday to a young girl and asked a boy for his birth certificate when he learned he was from Hawaii. Critics previously cast doubt that Mr Obama was born in the state and demanded to see his birth certificate to prove his eligibility for the presidency.
Last night Mr Obama was appearing at a public rally before almost 6,000 people in West Palm Beach.
The candidates, locked in a virtual dead-heat in the opinion polls, have several upcoming visits to the battleground state.
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