Is it Barack Obama, as seen by Mitt Romney? Or Romney, the way Obama depicts him? For all their liberal versus conservative differences, when the two presidential contenders describe each other, they sound like they're ragging on the same flawed guy. Or mirror images of that guy.
Will voters prefer the man waving with his left hand or his right?
Blame it on two cautious candidates with more traits in common than their disparate early biographies would suggest.
No Drama Obama is panned as professorial and aloof. Romney is deemed boring when he's not being awkward.
Distrusted as too moderate within his own party, each is demonized as a radical by the other side. They don't get specific about the tough stuff, like budget cuts or taxes, that would invite more precisely calibrated negative ads.
Add a presidential contest buried beneath a single issue, the economy, and original lines of attack are scarce. The candidates take jabs anyway.
"They're trying to define each other. That's what it's all about," said Ken Duberstein, chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan. "They're throwing out different characterizations to see which one resonates."