Now that Mitt Romney is the certain GOP nominee – and now that President Obama has officially kicked off his campaign (in a poorly-advanced event in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday), we can assess the state of the race six months away from the crucial November 6 presidential election.

Team Obama is less than stellar. Their advance team should be gutted after exposing the president to the embarrassment of empty seats at his first campaign event. How lazy and over-confident these staffers must be!

And the Obama TV ads are very, very poor quality. So, too, are his pro-Obama Super PAC ads.

Mr. Obama’s kick-off speech was amazingly negative. Instead of extolling the audience with the accomplishments of his first term, the president attacked his rival Mitt Romney and the GOP. This is highly unusual for an incumbent president. But, of course, other than the Bin Laden take-down, what does he have to talk about?

Then, Vice President Joe Biden either deliberately or accidentally – and when it comes to him, the accident is very likely – raised the thorny political issue of gay marriage on Sunday. Why? What is to be gained – especially in the crucial states of North Carolina and Virginia?

All of the above raises a few questions: does Team Obama know what they are doing? Or are they inept – as perhaps is their boss?

As for the GOP, Rick Santorum on Monday night – near midnight – endorsed Mitt Romney in the thirteenth paragraph of a press release! Talk about a back-handed endorsement!

Newt Gingrich, too, endorsed Romney – but with a decided lack of enthusiasm. And these endorsements really don’t matter much – except they mirror a lack of respect, fervency and, most importantly, fear of Mitt Romney among his former rivals. (Back in 1980, his defeated rivals rushed to be embraced by Ronald Reagan because they knew he would be running the GOP and they wanted to be “in.”)

How many voters – even Romney voters – do you meet who enthusiastically like the man? I find many who respect his success – but no one can relate to the guy.

That said, Romney may win. He may be president next year at this time. Maybe our economy will improve just by virtue of Americans voting out Obama. And, if the economy does improve and jobs are created, Romney will – for a while – get the credit. But he will never connect with voters.


He just doesn’t have it.

Just look at the way he has brought up the automobile bail-out. Talk about politically inept!

People are so turned off by this Obama vs. Romney choice in 2012 that they prefer to speculate about the 2016 race. Will Joe Biden run? Will Hillary run? Will they form a ticket? And, on the GOP side, who will be the GOP star? Rubio? Ryan? Christie? Santorum?

With the new Gallup survey showing 61% of the people find Obama likeable and only half – 30% -- feel that way about Romney, perhaps this is the narrative for Romney’s campaign to use:

President Obama is a nice guy who is in over his head; I made a ton of money because I know how to make the system work and, as your president, I’ll make it work for you. 

Hell, it’s better than anything else they’ve tried so far.

But he still parked his dough in Swiss and Cayman bank accounts – something so politically self-damaging as not to be believed.

It’s going to be a long six months.

Former New York Republican Congressman John LeBoutillier is co-host with pollsters Doug Schoen and Pat Caddell of "Campaign Insiders" which can be see every Monday at 10:30am ET on "FoxNews.com Live."