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In the streets of downtown Tampa, dual preparations continue as the city braces for tropical Storm Issac and the Republican National Convention. Convention officials delayed the start of the events from Monday afternoon to Tuesday as a safety precaution. Issac is not projected to hit landfall in Tampa, but that will not stop massive amounts of rain and strong winds from shutting everything down for a day.
There is one thing, however, that will continue to work inside the Forum center and serves as a loud remainder of what this election is about. That item is a large clock keeping track of the amount of financial debt, added each second. Tampa may be worried about the impending storm of Issac, but the entire country is facing a debt storm that is bearing down on everyone like a category 5 hurricane.
The optic of the clock is a perfect anchor for one of the foundational fights that will be played out this presidential election. President Obama will fight to make this election about Romney’s taxes, women’s rights, and Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan. The President’s surrogates and spokespeople will attempt to distract voters away from the economy.
Thus far, they have done an excellent job of doing so. But, the fiscal cliff that the spending of the Obama administration has enacted is a problem that Romney must keep front and center in the campaign. Nothing does that better than the backdrop of a debt calculator displaying the massive bill the country is racking up.
This is a message that the republicans must take to heart as well. The last two weeks have seen the Romney camp get bogged down over Medicare and the comments of Senate candidate Todd Akin regarding rape and abortion. The economy and the debt are problems one and two. They cannot afford to get caught in the Obama trap of defending themselves and talking about things that have nothing to do with those issues.
Many in the media will play along with President Obama and will be all too willing to cover other issues. Optics is one way around this obstacle. Do not just talk, show. Judging by the large and ominous clock clicking up every second of the convention speakers’ speeches, the Romney campaign may be on their way to making this election about what it needs to be about.