A U.S. presidential election that was supposed to hang entirely on the state of the country‚Äö√Ñ√¥s wobbly economy has been turned entirely on its ear by a poorly crafted video and trailer placed on YouTube.
The incoherent !Innocence of Muslims! video has become an excuse for rioting and violence against the U.S. and other Western powers by thousands of people in 20 countries of the Mideast and Africa. Probably few of them have actually seen it, although as I write it had 7.4 million views and thousands of comments.
To my knowledge it is the first time that social media from outside the campaign has injected itself directly into an American presidential race ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ changing the debate for several days.
Who does it help, President Obama or Republican challenger Mitt Romney? Conventional wisdom in Washington says that any day that Romney is talking about a subject other than jobs and the economy is a day that Obama wins. He continues to use hard-hitting ads like "Failing American Families". But the attacks on American offices overseas and the murder of an ambassador allowed the campaign to shift to foreign policy, where Romney‚Äö√Ñ√¥s credentials are weak, and his public statements have been awkward. Advantage Obama.
Knowing that late developments in Iran during a hostage crisis helped seal the defeat of President Jimmy Carter in 1980 has kept the Obama campaign on guard. At the beginning of this week President Obama, announced plans to file a complaint before the World Trade Organization against China, claiming that its subsidies for auto and auto parts manufacturers are costing Americans jobs. He reminded voters that Romney‚Äö√Ñ√¥s investment company, Bain Capital, was one of the first to promote the !outsourcing! of jobs from the U.S. to other countries, including China.
Polls show Obama with a good, but not great, lead in the race to November 6 ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ still plenty of time for a new surprise overseas, or for Romney to return to the one big issue that voters care about: the economy and, especially, jobs.
By Bill Hamilton,Executive Vice President atFenton Communications