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Sep 112012

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Believe them or not, post-convention polls such as the one out Tuesday from ABC News and the Washington Post show some wind — or maybe more accurately, a slight breeze — at President Obama’s back.

The presidential race has gone from “deadlocked” to a slight edge for Obama since Labor Day.

A lot of ups and downs are expected between now and Election Day — with three debates, two jobs reports and more than 50 news cycles still to go — but Republican pundits have begun to fret that Mitt Romney can’t continue to capitalize on the stubbornly weak economy.

“If the Republican Party cannot win in this environment, it has to get out of politics and find another business,” declared George Will on ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos Sunday.


Will was describing how the 8.1 percent unemployment rate belies the large numbers of Americans who have given up looking for work.

“If the workforce participation rate today were what it was in June 2009, when the recovery began, we would have an unemployment rate of 11.2 percent,” said Will. “If you add in the involuntarily unemployed, you’re approaching 19 percent, which is why I should think, from here on in, on the basis of these numbers, the Romney campaign’s slogan should be the title of Paul Krugman’s book, which is  End This Depression Now, because these are depression-level numbers.”

Other conservatives have joined in, albeit expressing less overt frustration than Will.

Speak Up, Mitt!” is the title of a piece by William Kristol in a forthcoming issue of the Weekly Standard.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page said Monday, “The GOP candidate might try explaining his policies. Just a thought.”

The editorial board was perturbed at Romney’s answer to a question on Meet the Press about a forthcoming ban on denying health insurance to those who have pre-existing conditions. Romney opposed the ban when Democrats passed it into law, but he seemed to have difficulty explaining why. And he even suggested he’d keep part of Obama’s health care law, although he didn’t specify how he’d do that.

“Mr. Romney’s pre-existing political calculation seems to be that he can win the election without having to explain the economic moment or even his own policies. As this flap shows, such vagueness carries its own political risks,” wrote the Journal’s editorial board.

Not all conservatives are quite so edgy, though. The National Review has come out with a calmingly reassuring editorial headline: “Fear Not the Bounce.”

But it includes this scathing critique of the Republican’s late-summer strategy:

“The Democrats, it seems to us, made better use of their convention than the Republicans made of theirs. The Republican message, especially in the most-watched addresses, seemed less coordinated, deliberate and focused. Republicans spent too much time explaining what a nice guy Romney is and how happy he is about female empowerment, and not enough time explaining how he would improve the national condition.”

The conclusion that Romney remains “in the hunt” is not news. A slight Obama lead by no means spells the end of the race. But the conventional wisdom among increasingly alarmed and vocal D.C. conservative thinkers is that team Romney needs to refocus and find a way to draw a starker contrast between him and President Obama, and zero in even more intently on the economy.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Aug 242012

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The anti-Obama documentary 2016: Obama’s America began showing in more than 1,000 theaters nationwide on Friday, more than any political documentary in the past eight years, since Michael Moore’s 2004 film Sicko was released in 1,117 theaters.

2016, which argues that President Obama’s father’s Kenyan roots have led the president to take an anti-American world view, has grossed more than $2.6 million since it was first released in Houston last month. The film is now the eleventh highest-grossing political documentary in history, according to Box Office Mojo, which tracks movie ticket sales.

“Demand has driven the expansion a ‘little’ fast[er] than I had planned but the early morning numbers from theaters is telling me 2016 is going to have a nice weekend at the box-office,” Randy Slaughter, a spokesman for the film’s distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures, said in an email.

While reviews of the film have been less than glowing — Variety’s Joe Leydon dubbed it a “a cavalcade of conspiracy theories, psycho-politico conjectures and incendiary labeling” — several big-name conservatives have endorsed the highly-critical look at Obama’s past.

On Friday, Donald Trump tweeted about the movie, based on conservative author Dinesh D’Souza’s book The Roots of Obama’s Rage, predicting it “will be highest grossing documentary in 2012!!”

Former GOP presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry tweeted his endorsement of the film when it opened in his state on July 13.

“Strong opening day for Obama’s America,” Perry tweeted. “This summer’s must see movie!!”

Rachel Rosen, the director of programming at the San Francisco Film Society, said the film has probably succeeded because of its ability to “catch the zeitgeist of what people are thinking about.”

In this case that zeitgeist is the conservative skepticism about President Obama’s multinational childhood. Obama was born in Hawaii to a mother from Kansas and a father from Kenya and grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia.

“This man’s background deeply illuminates his policy priorities,” D’Souza, who co-directs and stars in the film, told ABC News after its release in July. “He subscribes to an ideology that sees America very differently.”

Frederic Lahey, director of the Colorado Film School, said the film has likely seen such popularity because it is “emotionally evocative” and ends with a “call to action.” Lahey said documentaries are becoming more popular because people are “encountering lots of frustration in their lives” and “are looking for solutions and fresh perspective.”

“Too often the entertainment films are like eating a candy; once it’s gone it’s gone and unless it was tremendously well made the taste can be a little too sugary,” Lahey said. “Sometimes people are looking for a meal, something with a little more protein and content.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio