"Hire and fire" presidents?

(CBS News) As the general election has taken off, political experts on "Face the Nation" said Sunday that both presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama face an uphill battle to win on Election Day.

Conservative columnist Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal said the president is taking on a defensive tone.

"If you compare it to 2008 when he announced, 2008 was about theme and place - Springfield, Ill., Abe Lincoln, let's come together - this was fisticuffs. And what struck me as so interesting about it is we are only at the beginning of May, and the president is already naming and shaming his contender," Noonan said.

Liberal-leaning journalist David Corn with Mother Jones said the president is forced to start early in a world of Internet immediacy and rapid-fire response.

"We live in a time where I think fisticuffs happen by the nanosecond, and no one waits. And he's been beaten up pretty good for the last few years - often, I think, unfairly - by the people on the right," Corn said. "He wants a contest that is one about choices between visions and values, his and those of Mitt Romney's."

The Washington Post's Michael Gerson said Romney has to overcome the perception people have of him by focusing on the economy.

"In the polling people actually trust Romney more on the management of the economy," Gerson said. "so he should be talking about this. And he's going to do all that. It's not going to be enough, because Mitt Romney has a serious problem. He's stuck in a stereotype. He seems not just like your boss, but your boss' boss."

"The big upside for Romney is, though, he may not have to connect with you," CBS Political Director John Dickerson said. "All he has to do is point to these jobs numbers. The unemployment rate went down, but what went up in huge numbers is the number of people who just dropped out, who aren't participating at all."

Noonan summed it up this way: "But at the end of the day, I still think this is about - you've seen the past three years of President Obama. Did you like it? If you liked it, you can vote for more. If you did not like it, you can take a look at the other guy, and if he seems credible to you, you can hire him.

"I don't think Americans are as sentimental and emotional about their presidents as they used to be. I think they hire them and fire them."

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    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.