With the bought election result in Wisconsin this week fresh in both candidate's minds that will be welcome news.The candidates will be staggering their journey to the White House in two halves;the first will be the run-up to the party conventions:for the Democrats this will be held for the first time in Charlotte,North Virginia,for the Republicans on more seasoned territory in Tampa,Florida.Both are swing states and both need the generated publicity in these tough times,in a country where in the past Cincinnati housewives and steel tariffs have proved decisive in the electoral outcome. Then the televised debates,the travelling,the politicking. So what of Obama,the first black president with a white mother and Kenyan lawyer father,both with razor-sharp intellects,yet whose mother's drive and ambition for her son manifested itself in his early-morning wake-ups confronting a quick-fire question session as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes.It was she he remembered as he was pushing his health-care reform bill through Congress,typical of the 46 million Americans with no safety net and the millions more who like his mother were worrying about their bills as she faced a terminal illness. True,Obama inherited a bum steer,with the worst economic slump since the days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1931.Yet,say his critics,after three years growth rates were massively ahead of what they are today.Hemmed in by the Tea Party movement,the extra military spending and a multi-billion dollar stimulus plan adding another couple of trillions to the already huge $14 trillion debt,it appears at times as if Mr. President is just wringing his hands,whilst not averse to swinging a mashie on his favourite Martha's Vineyard golf course. His opponent Mitt Romney is another family-oriented self-made man,or rather the silver spoon he was born with in his mouth he has turned to gold.Son of Michegan Governor George,Mitt was packed off to France in the late 1960s:at a time when the Clintons and Bushes were avoiding the draft Mitt was having la porte shoved firmly in his face as he trudged the streets of Le Havre in an optimistic yet vain attempt to convert Catholic France to what some unkindly regard as a non-Christian cult,Mormonism. On return to America he enrolled in a business and law degree course at Harvard University.With the right connections(his father served in the Nixon administration)he gained experience as a management consultant in Boston and set up his own private equity firm Bain Capital in 1984.One view of how private equity works is depicted by political economist Robert Reich here:http://memex.naughtons.org/archives/2012/04/12/16012 However one thing cannot be denied:though 65 years old he has the energy level of a man half his age,and whatever the rights and wrongs of the acquisition of his $200 million wealth he has spent countless hours outside the boardroom engaged in charity work and other community activities. So what of each candidate's chances for the White House in November?Economists have calculated that factoring in those who are working part-time by default and those who despite Obama's slogan of "Yes We Can" have given up looking for work altogether,the real unemployment rate stands at 14%.This explains Romney's lead of 47% to 43% on the economy,which is where the election will be won. Yet foreign policy remains unpredictable with Afghanistan,Syria,Iraq and Libya capable of throwing both these well-travelled men off- course.Yet Obama must remain cautiously optimistic as he prepares for his next bowl of Junket dessert placed on fine linen served from another celebrity hotel venue.