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La Presse, Canada

Obama’s Feat


By Jean-Pascal Beaupré

Translated By Alison Rane

7 November 2012

Edited by Molly Rusk


Canada - La Presse - Original Article (French)

Barack Obama made a narrow escape. The president of the United States has been given a good scare.

His snatched victory last night was less spectacular than that of 2008. It also received less enthusiasm among Democrats. Yet few key states that supported Obama four years ago turned their backs. This is an impressive achievement, considering the perilous economic situation in which he served his first term.

As usual, Ohio played a determining role. Ultimately, it was a decision that the president made in 2009 which facilitated his re-election: the rescue of the auto industry. Blue-collar workers who benefited from that decision have returned the favor for Mr. Obama, which made the difference.

Despite a bumpy recovery and an unemployment rate still grazing 8 percent, Americans have renewed the president in the White House for a second term. This is a feat in itself. Certainly they are not doing it happily. However, they prefer to keep a president they know in power rather than to entrust the country to a Mitt Romney of vague promises and ambiguous positions. Voters have not always endorsed the decisions of their president, but they appreciate the man. Their vote was more pro-Obama than anti-Romney.

Obama did unnecessarily complicate the task. At the end of September, the president was sailing to an easy victory. Yet his disappointing performance in the first debate changed the situation: His inability to identify Mitt Romney's deficiencies opened the door to the Republican candidate's rise. Obama had to fight hard for the last month of the campaign to stop the hemorrhaging.

The consolidation of support for the president in the last week of the campaign suggests that Hurricane Sandy gave a providential boost. The "October Surprise" interrupted Mitt Romney’s momentum while providing an unexpected opportunity for Obama to show, a few days before the election, the strength of his leadership and deep empathy in times of crisis. Glowing praise from the Republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, served the president's cause and was seen as a stab in the back to the Republican candidate.

Too busy painting his opponent negatively throughout the campaign, Obama never stopped to describe his plans for the next four years. One thing is certain, though — he will not have long to celebrate his victory. The specter of the "fiscal cliff" is looming on the horizon.

However, the political landscape has not changed much in the United States following the election yesterday. Republicans maintained their majority in the House of Representatives; negotiations will be arduous between the White House and Congress from now until January 1.



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