In the best of circumstances,it is hard to beat an incumbent president. It hasn’t been done since Bill Clinton nosed ahead of George H. W. Bush,thanks to a strong showing by billionaire Ross Perot’s quixotic third-party candidacy.

Incumbents are hard to beat. They control the government,they normally have a fundraising advantage,and they generally can benefit from world affairs,wars,and the famous October surprises.

Couple the natural incumbent advantage with a group of talented advisors and strategists assembled by Barack Obama,and you begin to understand why Mitt Romney is the underdog in this race.

The challenge for Romney is twofold. First,he needs to control his own image. The Obama image is set in stone. Voters either like him or loathe him,but it is unlikely that this campaign will radically change opinion about Obama. But Romney’s image is not as stable. His campaign needs to attempt to introduce him to a wider audience and create a positive image or brand in these undecided or uninformed voters’minds.

While Romney is busy introducing himself,Obama’s team will fighting to undercut the Romney message. In 1996,Bob Dole lost to Bill Clinton during this vital period before the summer conventions. Using his monetary advantage,Clinton savaged the Dole image before the campaign even got started. Dole lost before he was nominated. The Obama team has already started airing negative commercials attacking Romney. Romney cannot wait;he must fight back now.

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