Republicans send Obama over the moon (Washington Newsletter)

January 29th, 2012 - 4:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, Jan 29 (IANS) One promised the moon, the other “fired” him for the loony idea and the man they hoped to challenge in November lowered his lofty vision from “hope and change” to “fairness and equality.”

Election season 2012 is hotting up with two leading Republican contenders, former House speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, vying for the right to take on President Barack Obama, entering into a no holds barred combat.

With Romney losing the last primary battle to Gingrich in South Carolina despite the support of its popular Indian American governor Nikki Haley nee Nimrata Randhawa, the gloves are off as they tear at each other ahead of the next high stakes primary in the Sunshine state of Florida Tuesday to the delight of an embattled Obama.

For the first time in the seemingly never ending Republican debates, Romney went on the offensive in Florida last week as he clashed with Gingrich over immigration, taxes and wealth and blasted his rival for his proposal to set up a base on the moon saying he would tell anyone bringing such a suggestion to him, “You are fired.”

The somewhat unexpected rise of Gingrich, whose campaign had been left for dead at least twice by observers, has not only shaken his rivals but also sent shudders through the Republican establishment and the conservative elite, suggest some commentators.

“The fear of Newt has displaced lack of love for Romney as the dominant emotion,” as Dan Balz wrote in the Washington Post citing a letter to voters from 1996 Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole calling him a “one-man band who rarely took advice. It was his way or the highway.”

Gingrich was “doing more to boost President Obama’s re-election prospects than anything Obama himself could do,” wrote Dana Milbank another Post commentator.

Obama himself made the best use the nationally televised prime time State of the Union address to fire the opening salvo in his re-election bid with a call to Congress to help him close the gap between the rich and the poor with proposals to tax the wealthy and bring manufacturing jobs back to America with disincentives to outsourcing.

His gaffe prone Vice President Joe Biden took on from where Obama left and twice appeared to adopt what some thought was an Indian accent as he talked to workers in Rochester, New Hampshire while discussing the loss of call-centre jobs to other countries, before quickly checking himself just in time

“How many times do you get the call,” said Biden, who had done something similar in 2006 to upset the Indian community, then adopting an Indian accent “I like to talk to you about your” - and returning to his normal voice - “credit card.”

Indian Americans may not have been amused again, but then all is fair in love, war and elections!

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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