Howard Fineman, editorial director of The Huffington Post Media Group, shared with NAIFA members his insights on the upcoming presidential election and the state of politics.
Speaking during the NAIFA general session on Sunday, Sept. 9, Fineman opinionated that he was surprised either presidential candidate, President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, would win the election, considering how negative and accusatory the campaigns from both sides have been.
The key struggle with this election, he said, was the inability to define the nature of the contest. He felt that Americans will best make their voting decisions once the televised presidential debates air, beginning Oct. 3.
Fineman continued by giving his pros and cons on Obama’s and Romney’s candidacy, campaign and personalities.
For Romney’s positives and why voters find him appealing, Fineman applauded Romney’s sterling business record and his resolution on continuing to work hard and get results. Fineman also touched on Romney’s wonderful family and Mormon good deeds, although noting that Romney downplays his religion, due to past issues.
On the cons, Fineman feels that Romney is, basically, in the wrong line of work. Romney is not comfortable or suited to this type of public profile, and he doesn’t come off as a natural politician. Another weak point in his campaign is the back-and-forth on Obamacare. Romney has come out to say, if elected president, he will try to keep some portions of the new health care regime, such as pre-existing medical conditions. This muddled message goes against what his campaign and Republicans have been saying, which makes conservative voters uncomfortable. And while Romney’s business sense may be his strength, the details of possible offshore bank accounts have voters concerned.
As for Obama, Fineman pointed out that he has and owns that “presidential aura” as the incumbent. With the successes of killing Osama bin Laden and the auto industry bailout, Obama has been shown to carry through with his some of his promises and aid those in need. This election year, Fineman pointed out, mass politics is drastically being changed by social media, and the Democrats have the more technologically advanced campaign, gathering the interests and attention of the younger generations. The Obama campaign also has covered ground and gathered a huge support in the Hispanic community, especially though supporting Obamacare.
However, nobody since President Franklin D. Roosevelt has been re-elected during a time with a large unemployment rating. Since Obama promised job growth in his 2008 campaign, with little success in following through, Fineman said many Obama voters questioning their 2008 votes are not optimistic about the future with the Democrats. One of the biggest swing constituencies, U.S. Catholic voters, is also quite angry at Obama for requiring Catholic organizations to provide contraception to workers.
After his comparisons between the candidates, Fineman opened the floor to questions from NAIFA members and discussed such issues as: objective news organizations, Senate control and whether or not politicians are aware of how negatively they are viewed.
As a last note, Fineman said, “However unsatisfied we are with our politics, would you want to be in any other country? Because I wouldn’t.”