#USelections2012: GOP foes and SCOTUS woes

This week: Bad news for Obama in the Supreme Court, Santorum’s potty mouth, Adelson pulls the plug on Newt.

April 3, 2012 14:07
4 minute read.

USelections2012. (photo credit: Supplied)

In terms of the 2012 election, US President Barack Obama has had a rough week.

For one, in the two weeks since their last primaries, the Republicans have finally begun to coalesce around Mitt Romney as their candidate, a phenomenon amply documented by videos on YouTube.

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First, New Gingrich lost his primary backer when American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson reluctantly pulled the financial plug. Despite having invested $16.5 million into Gingrich’s campaign, Adelson confessed to the Jewish Journal (after explaining why he dislikes both Santorum and Romney) that Gingrich is “at the end of his line.”

Polling in last place at seven percent, Gingrich decided that, with a campaign racking up more debt than money, it was time to cut about a third of his staff and focus his energies on surviving until the convention, which remains his best bet at securing his political future and having some say in the party platform.

Romney took the lead over rival Rick Santorum in polls for Tuesday’s primary in Wisconsin, a race many political observers believe will seal Romney’s front-runner status should he win (DC and Maryland also vote on Tuesday). Feeling the pressure, the usually-mild-mannered Santorum was caught cussing in a tense exchange with a New York Times reporter:

Santorum also took some heat for a campaign speech stumble, in which he sounded like he was about to call the President the “N word.” A Youtube clip of the stumble quickly went viral, with over 1.2 million hits:

The Obama campaign can’t be happy about the front-runner emergence of Romney, who managed to pick up important endorsements from Congressman and budget guru Paul Ryan, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and former US president George H. W. Bush. Once it’s clear who the GOP candidate will be, the party brass can stop taking aim at one another and start taking shots at Obama instead.

But the US president got himself into hot water without any Republican help this week, when a “hot mic” caught him reassuring outgoing Russian President Dmitri Medvedev that he could approach Russia’s once and future president Vladimir Putin with more flexibility on missile defense “after my election.” A Republican group quickly turned the clip into an entertaining 007 parody, which received over four times the views of the original clip:

Obama’s most serious problems, however, were not the result of cute campaign clips or election year politics. Far more worrying for the incumbent, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard three days of oral arguments over the biggest domestic achievement under the US president’s belt: the Affordable Care Act.

Obama spent much political capital getting the controversial healthcare law passed during his first year in office, so it must have been worrying indeed when Supreme Court justices reviewing the law called its constitutionality into question, firing piercing questions at government lawyers.

The case is one of the most hotly debated and high-profile Supreme Court arguments in the nation’s recent history, and its outcome will have implications not only for the upcoming election, but for the entire US government for generations to come. It is no wonder that three of the top Google searches during the hearings were healthcare-focused ("solicitor general," "supreme court justices" and "Obamacare").

Respected CNN Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin made waves when he made a dour prediction for the US president after the first day of hearings.

Tweet of the week:

His early analysis of the situation on CNN (which in subsequent days upgraded the disaster from train wreck to plane wreck), was widely cited by analysts across the board as a bellwether for the fate of the law—and its implications for the US president’s reelection—when the court gives its ruling in June.

For all the bruising, Obama can take solace in two things. The first is that he still leads in polls against Romney (and all the other Republican candidates). The second is that, despite all the political dirt being thrown around, the most viral video of the week, which garnered nearly six million views, hones in on a quality anybody would want to be associated with. It says he’s “sexy.”

Viral Video of the week:

#USelections2012 offers weekly insight into the US Presidential election through a social media lens, tracking candidates as they try to reach 270 electoral votes in 140 characters or less.

The writer is a Breaking News editor and blogger at The Jerusalem Post. Read his blog ‘The Bottom Line’ here.

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