NEW YORK – President Obamas campaign has been running television commercials that suggest Mitt Romney might be a tax cheat. Another ad uses a clip of the Republican singing an off-key rendition of America the Beautiful to ding him for having overseas bank accounts. Another Obama-sponsored spot states flatly: Mitt Romneys not the solution. Hes the problem.
So much for the promise of hope, change and bipartisan unity that propelled Obama to victory in 2008.
To win a second term, the Democrat who once pledged to usher in a more civilized political era has turned to highly critical commercials – at turns personal and snarky – to go toe to toe with Romney in a campaign noteworthy for its negativity and intensity.
But Obama risks turning off voters who generally despise negative ads and undercutting what is arguably his greatest asset – his personal popularity – in a razor-thin race expected to be won in just a handful of competitive states.
The president seemed to acknowledge his campaigns gamble in one of his newest TV ads.
Sometimes politics can seem very small, Obama says, as he speaks reassuringly into the camera.
In the general election, polling shows Obama still has a broad advantage over Romney in what pollsters call likability.
The gap is a major reason the race has remained competitive despite the slow economic recovery and persistently high unemployment.
A USA Today/Gallup Poll released Tuesday found 60 percent of voters see Obama as likable, compared with just 30 percent who find Romney likable.
If Barack Obamas re-election were just a matter of people liking him better than Mitt Romney, the election would be over and Obama would be cruising to victory, Quinnipiac University pollster Peter Brown says. The question instead is whether they want him running the country for the next four years.