By TOM RAUM, Associated Press
French President Nicolas Sarkozy's defeat could be a bad omen for President Barack Obama.
Sarkozy on Sunday joined a growing list of leaders swept aside by Europe's economic crisis or by austerity measures hated by voters. Some 11 have now fallen, including Italy's Silvio Berlusconi and Spain's Jose Louis Rodriguez Zapatero.
Sure, many European economies are in worse shape than the U.S. But there are some similarities, including broad voter skepticism on both sides of the Atlantic that government programs are doing much to spur growth or produce jobs.
Polls show most Americans still think the country remains in recession, even though it technically ended almost three years ago. They also show Republican Mitt Romney leading Obama on handling economic issues.
That's not good for Obama, with the economy still the No. 1 election issue.
Romney often links the president to Europe, suggesting Obama "wants to make us a European-style welfare state."
In Charlotte, N.C., Romney recently quipped that Obama won't stand alongside Greek columns at this year's Democratic convention as he did in 2008. "He's not going to want to remind anyone of Greece, because he's put us on a road to become more like Greece." Charlotte hosts the Democrats in September.
North Carolina, Indiana and West Virginia hold GOP primaries Tuesday, with Romney expected to sweep all three in his march toward the Republican presidential nomination.
The Europeanization of Obama is a GOP attempt to distance him from his own country. Never mind that government programs in Europe have little in common with Obama's, that GOP budgets propose more austerity than Obama's or that Sarkozy was beaten by a real socialist.
The president's re-election campaign is fighting back by portraying America on the rise under Obama. "We're not there yet. It's still too hard for many. But we're coming back," says an Obama television ad released Monday.
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