NEW YORK (
) -- Expect there to be no more Mr. Nice Guy for Barack Obama this election season.
The president, whose historic 2008 campaign largely triumphed on the positive message of hope and change, will have to defend a still-struggling economy in 2012, and we've already seen a hint of what may come.
"Unlike his last campaign ... he has a record to run on," said Christopher Metzler, a conservative political analyst who teaches at Georgetown University. "Keep in mind that if the campaign is about Obama's record it is a much tougher campaign; if the campaign is about Mitt Romney and his lack of being able to connect ... then it's a much harder race for the Republicans."
Barack Obama's record as president is a mixed bag that includes 8.2% unemployment,
moderate economic growth
, a strong manufacturing sector, an
abysmal housing sector
and many other varying factors -- both positive and negative.
Just two days after Rick Santorum dropped out of the Republican primary race to all but guarantee Romney the nomination, a Democratic strategist said Romney's wife, Ann,
had never worked a day in her life nor dealt with economic issues that now face a majority of women.
Romney's campaign and the Republican National Committee exploded over the remarks and accused Democrats and the president for insulting stay-at-home mothers.
Obama's campaign manager and former White House senior advisor have both condemned the strategist, Hilary Rosen, in an attempt to distance the campaign as much as possible from the issue.
But the scrum for female voters ramped up after a poll showed Romney behind Obama by double-digit percentage points in the critical demographic. If Romney can't close that gap, he will likely lose the presidency in November.
Aware that he needs to court women voters -- especially after a heated primary battle forced him to become very conservative on key social issues -- Romney emailed reporters Tuesday with a stat that said women accounted for 92.3% of jobs lost during Obama's term.
Obama's campaign on Wednesday attacked Romney's campaign when it said it had to "get back to you on that" when a reporter asked if the former governor supported the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act that fights for equal pay.