Piers Morgan: Why Sandy may have won the election for Obama

by Piers Morgan

A few years later, Labour leader Harold Wilson came up with his own version: “A week is a long time in politics.” The point being that no politician, however brilliant, can ever plan for stuff happening that’s completely beyond his or her control.

A week ago, if you’d asked me who was going to win the American Presidential election on Tuesday, I’d have said Mitt Romney.

Today, I’d say Barack Obama.

By tomorrow, I might have changed my mind again.

And I’m not the only one.

Most polls in the US now have the two men neck-and-neck as the race for the world’s most powerful job has turned into one of the closest, most nail-biting contests in political history.

And it’s all come down to a lady called Sandy.

There are two famous quotes from former British prime ministers that every politician needs to have tattooed on their forehead from birth.

Harold Macmillan, asked by a journalist in the late Fifties what he thought was most likely to knock his Conservative government off course, replied: “Events, dear boy, events.”

A few years later, Labour leader Harold Wilson came up with his own version: “A week is a long time in politics.” The point being that no politician, however brilliant, can ever plan for stuff happening that’s completely beyond his or her control.

Until last Sunday, Romney was looking good for the White House.

He had momentum on his side, ever since he gave a surprisingly brilliant performance in the first of three Presidential TV debates — defeating an oddly lacklustre Obama by the biggest margin in any debate poll ever recorded. Suddenly, Mr Boring — as his critics had dubbed Romney — sprang to life. And Mr Hope & Change — as Obama’s fans love to call him — looked a beaten man.

I’ve interviewed Romney three times for my CNN show, and he’s a complex character. He’s incredibly principled in his private life. A strict Mormon, he’s never had a drink, cigarette, illicit drug, or affair. He gives at least ten per cent of his annual income to charity and doesn’t even swear! But as a politician, he’s more slippery on where he stands than a shoal of eels.

You name the issue, he’s flip-flopped on it:

On abortion, he was firmly pro-choice, now he’s equally firmly pro-life.

On guns, he once outlawed lethal assault weapons as Governor of Massachusetts. Now he says they’re fine — despite a rash of horrific recent mass gun killings.

On healthcare, he was the first governor to bring in a compulsory “mandate” health insurance scheme. But when Obama did the same thing, he lambasted it as a “terrible idea”.

On stem cell research, he was once a huge fan, but now he says he’s “been persuaded the stem cell debate was grounded in a false premise”.

He’s also been battling against a President who’s achieved many significant things in his first four years.

Obama has indisputably improved America’s reputation abroad after the war-ridden years of George W. Bush, not least by ending the conflict in Iraq and recently announcing the end of troop deployment in Afghanistan.

He saved the US car industry with a successful government bailout, brought 30 million more Americans into healthcare insurance, ordered the successful killing of Osama Bin Laden, and pushed down the barriers of homophobia by supporting gay marriage.

But, as any seasoned pollster will tell you, it usually comes down to “the economy, stupid” when people actually go to vote.

And that’s where Romney’s had the better of the battle with Obama.

Unemployment in America is still 7.9 per cent, the national debt’s risen $5trillion under this President to a staggering $16trillion, petrol prices have doubled since 2008 — and the housing market remains in the tank.

Many Americans, like many Britons, are suffering serious financial hardship, and they want the economy fixed. Romney has a brilliant track record as a businessman, earning himself £200 million running a venture capital company called Bain that bought struggling businesses and often, though not always, turned them round.

Romney insists that he can grow America’s shattered economy — which would, of course, have a hugely beneficial effect on our own economy — by cutting taxes and shrinking the size of Government.

And after the three TV debates, which got audiences of over 60 million viewers, the polls suggested Americans were beginning to believe him.

But then came Sandy.

I told a friend in New York last week: “The only thing that can stop Romney winning now is a woman.”

I meant in the form of a sex scandal, that would instantly shatter his squeaky-clean image. Well, a devastating female entity burst onto the scene on Monday night, but her name was Sandy, and she was a hurricane.

And not just any old hurricane.

This was the most powerful, destructive hurricane in New York’s history.

And it may yet claim one more victim: Mitt Romney. Make no mistake, this was just about the worst thing that could have happened to Romney.

Why?

Because it completely removed the election from the news agenda in America for most of this crucial week, meaning he got barely any TV airtime.

Conversely, Obama got to be presidential in a time of crisis. He gave orders, hugged victims, flew in Marine One over flooded areas and gave press conferences wearing army jackets.

In short, he behaved exactly like a President should behave.

Even worse for Romney, his virtual right-hand man in the Republican party, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, poured ecstatic praise on Obama, saying repeatedly what a brilliant job he’d done throughout the disaster.

Imagine Boris Johnson sticking his arm round Ed Miliband a week before our next election and saying what a brilliant leader he’s been.

David Cameron would be tearing his slick, perfectly coiffeured hair out.

But it remains too close to call — and there are still 48 hours left for something ELSE to happen.

Nothing would surprise me in what has become the most unpredictable election I’ve ever covered.

Mitt Romney may still win, despite the horrendous events of last week knocking his campaign off the rails.

If he does, it will be because Americans concluded they trust him more than Obama to revive the economy.

But it wouldn’t surprise me if come Wednesday we see Romney stranded at a drive-in, branded a fool, crying: “Sandy, Sandy, why, oh Sandy?”

 

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

 

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One comment

  1. Just maybe!!!!!!Obama for another 4yrs

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail