The Corner

Obama Unnerved — by Ohio?

Talk about the sullen presage of a campaign’s decay. Something was wrong with President Obama last night, to judge by his performance. Was Ohio on his mind? An AP story says that the Obama campaign is now talking about a way to win without taking the state:

The vice president is midway through a three-day tour of uber-battleground Ohio, and Obama’s team contends it’s best way of ensuring victory is a win there. The campaign says internal polling gives Obama a lead in the Midwestern battleground state, in large part because of the popularity of the president’s bailout of the auto industry.

But even if Obama loses Ohio, his campaign sees another pathway to the presidency by nailing New Hampshire, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nevada and Colorado.

That the Obama camp is even talking about losing Ohio is a stunning turn of events. 

No wonder, then, that Romney seemed like the man who was winning last night. When he spoke, you thought “energy in the executive.” When Obama spoke, the words that came to mind were “fatigue,” “apathy,” “frustration.” In his closing statement the president was clearly rattled, lamely reciting talking points we’ve heard too often before, not even pretending to care about what he was saying — simply wanting it to be over. It was as though a light had gone out. Was he disconcerted by the smoothness of Romney’s performance? Or is his campaign’s internal polling in Ohio less pretty than his people are letting on?

Michael Knox Beran — Mr. Beran, a lawyer, is the author of Forge of Empires: Three Revolutionary Statesmen and the World They Made, 1861–1871, among other books.

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