Romney, Obama competing to frame the budget fight

 U.S. President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney
Republican Presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and U.S. President Barack Obama
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(CBS News) With the presidential race shaping up to be a competitive contest, President Obama and Mitt Romney will go head to head on critical issues like the federal budget -- but each side will be looking for a competitive advantage by framing the discussion in their terms.

"If it's a conversation just about reducing deficits, Republicans will do well," CBS News political director John Dickerson said on CBS This Morning. "People trust Romney on that question over President Obama."

On the other hand, he continued, "If the conversation is about who's going to be more fair in the future... That's turf on which the president would like to fight the election, in which he's got a slightly better chance. The budget will be a big conversation, and they will both be fighting about what exactly it means to have a fight over the budget."

A CBS/ New York Times poll released this morning shows Mr. Obama and Romney in a dead heat nationally, with both garnering 46 percent support. Still, the poll showed many Republicans have lukewarm feelings toward Romney: 40 percent of primary voters expressed reservations about him, while with 33 percent said they support him "enthusiastically."

Dickerson said "that's to be expected after a bruising primary," but that Romney could still rally his base.

"We saw last week in this flap about women and Ann Romney... that was a galvanizing moment for conservatives," he said, referring to a political spat that started when a Democratic operative said Mitt Romney's wife -- a stay-at-home mom -- had never "worked a day in her life."

"If there continue to be a number of those in which conservatives can see something they don't like about Democrats or this president, that will help Mitt Romney a great deal," Dickerson said.