THE RACE: Trivial issues fly in White House race

THE RACE: Trivial issues fly in White House race
ILE - In this March 15, 2012, file photo, President Barack Obama pets the family dog Bo, a Portuguese water dog, outside the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. So let's get all the puns out of the way, shall we? It's the issue with legs _ four of them. The doggone thing won't go away. Has the presidential race just gone to the dogs? Or are we simply in those dog days between the primary season and the start of the general election? Whatever it is, the political Mommy Wars seem to have given way, at least temporarily, to the Doggy Wars, with an effort by supporters of both Mitt Romney and Obama to gain points with the Doggy Vote. That's dog owners, not the dogs themselves _ at least for now. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

These are the dog days of the presidential race, so to speak.

The candidates are virtually decided, the political conventions still way off and the issues are scattered and sometimes trivial.

Tuesday's Republican primaries in Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Connecticut and Rhode Island don't loom as large as they once did when former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum was still challenging Mitt Romney, now the presumed GOP nominee with Santorum's withdrawal.

Polls show the economy and jobs clearly concern voters the most.

And President Barack Obama and Romney each constantly argue that he would be the better steward of the economy rather than the other.

But right now, economic growth and job creation have slowed to a crawl with no clear consensus on whether things will improve or worsen before Election Day.

Republican consultant Tony Fratto was prompted to tweet: "This part of pres campaigns is the dumdrums — like doldrums, only we're trapped in a windless sea of dumb issues."

A prime example is the debate over whether it's worse to transport a dog in a crate on top of your car, as Romney did on a family vacation; or eat dog-meat as food, as Obama wrote he did as a young boy in Indonesia.

Republicans are finding some traction over the General Services Administration's lavish taxpayer-financed 2010 conference near Las Vegas. But the more serious Secret Service scandal involving alleged prostitutes in Colombia is being handled gingerly by both parties.

"Sure, it creates a problem for President Obama. It adds to the sense that Washington is broken. But if the Republicans try to make this a point in their arguments, they are making a big mistake," says GOP strategist Karl Rove.

After all, agents equally risk their lives to protect presidents and would-be presidents from both parties.

___

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.