If past incumbents have been reluctant to directly engage opponents this early in an election year for fear of looking like a candidate rather than a president, Mr. Obama has tossed aside convention. No simply leaving it to the vice president or the campaign staff, no waiting until summer, no dancing around with oblique phrases like “my opponent.”
Instead, with Mitt Romney now the nominal Republican nominee, Mr. Obama has shown a willingness to confront him aggressively by name more than five months before the election. In a succession of speeches on the road over the last two days, the president attacked Mr. Romney as an out-of-touch plutocrat whose prescriptions for the economy would reverse the fragile gains of the last couple of years…
Mr. Romney’s camp said the attacks signal desperation. “All he has to offer now are tired political attacks,” said Amanda Henneberg, a spokeswoman. “With no record to run on, no new ideas and flailing attacks like these, it’s no surprise the Obama campaign has had such a tough week.”
President Barack Obama delivered one of his most direct attacks against Mitt Romney here Thursday night, painting Romney as an out-of-touch corporate raider.
At this event, held before an enthusiastic crowd of 2,500 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, Obama reminded the crowd that Romney said “corporations are people,” while stumping in Iowa last August during the Republican primary. The president said there may be value in Romney’s experience in corporate buyouts, “but it’s not in the White House.”…
Speaking directly to Iowans, Obama used local lingo to slam Romney: “Governor Romney came to Des Moines last week and warned of a prairie fire of debt,” he said. “But he left out some facts. His speech was more like a cow pie of distortion.”
Peter Brown, who analyzes polls for Quinnipiac University, says of the likeability quotient, “It’s an advantage. It’s a tool that helps in areas where he may not score as well, such as the economy.”
This X factor of politics also explains why the Obama campaign has spent millions of dollars out of the gate on television ads, not to defend the president’s record on job creation, the recovering housing market or the possible benefits of his health care plan, but on attack ads portraying Romney as a heartless corporate raider. While voters by now know Obama well, they are just getting to know Romney. Before he can define himself, Obama wants to define him as someone who is wholly unlikeable. And that will ultimately impact how they view Romney’s potential stewardship of the economy.
As Glasgow said, “If you think Romney is a tough, smart businessman, you’re going to think what he’s proposing is good for the economy. If you think he’s a calloused businessman, just trying to enrich his buddies, you’re going to think his economic plan is bad.”
We are rapidly approaching the moment at which Washington reevaluates the Obama campaign’s reputation for competence and expertise. Every week, one or several of Obama’s surrogates trip over their own words; every day, Jim Messina and David Plouffe and David Axelrod must scratch their heads in wonder at the mess they are creating. One gaffe is an isolated event. Two is an embarrassment. But three or more form a pattern, one that is damaging not only Obama’s precarious chances for reelection but also the fortunes of the Democratic Party…
The Democrats clawed their way back to the presidency in 1992 thanks to a revolution in Democratic affairs: No longer would his party be captured by its client groups, Bill Clinton promised. The Democrats would not merely be a tool of the unions and the New Class of “helping professions” that rely on government spending for sustenance. Democrats would be pro-business, pro-Wall Street even. Freed from a Democratic Congress after the 1994 elections, Clinton was able to make good on this pledge and restrain spending, reform welfare, cut capital gains taxes, and enjoy an economic boom. His party grew close to Wall Street. It accumulated so much goodwill there and in boardrooms across the country that in 2008 even a former community organizer with roots in the left was able to pull the wool over the eyes of some of America’s most powerful financiers.
What resulted—the stimulus, Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, the relentless pursuit of higher taxes on wealth, the bashing of hedge funds and private equity—has turned much of high finance against the Obama administration and even the Democratic Party at large. Cory Booker was performing triage. He was trying to sustain the dying embers of a Clintonite, pro-business Democratic Party. He understood that Obama and his Keystone Kops are turning the New Democrat dream into ashes. And Booker, like other Democrats, is terrified by the answer to the following question: Who else will Obama bring down with him?
For the first time, some top Democrats are questioning the strategy coming out of the reelection campaign’s Chicago headquarters, with some agreeing with Newark Mayor Cory Booker that Obama is making it too easy to paint him as anti-business. Ed Rendell and Steve Rattner have also publicly voiced concerns, echoed by many others in private conversations. The result has been a minor, but very public, split in the party on an issue Obama’s camp hoped would tag Romney with a series of crippling labels: elitist, mean-spirited, anti-worker.
“I feel like they are overly relying on the have-nots out-voting the haves,” said one well-known Democrat close to the campaign. “The economy has gotten a lot better for a lot of people. Instead of making those people feel good about growing businesses, the campaign seems to assume that angry people will prevail. There were successful business leaders in the 2008 coalition, who wanted to use their success to do good. We’re losing that inspiration.”…
Some key Democrats say they have been dismayed watching Obama become a divider not a uniter, trying to incite anger among women, students and older voters. It’s striking how, in private conversations with Obama advisers, they openly talk of chucking the feel-good politics of 2008 for a very conventional form of political warfare this time around. A low-grade friction has emerged among advisers on whether the hack approach is damaging the brand.
Today, our political leaders in Washington can’t balance a budget, can’t end a war and can’t even treat each other with respect. And our president can’t understand why a reelection campaign based on populist resentment and class warfare is a message that will get him beaten in the fall…
Here’s the irony: part of Barack Obama’s personal story—one he has now written twice—has a lot in common with the stories of families like mine. Obama’s grandparents in Hawaii were hard-working folks. His grandfather, a World War II veteran, managed a furniture store; his grandmother rose in the ranks of a local bank. It’s not hard to imagine Obama’s grandparents and my parents having a supper together.
And resentment would never have been on the menu. The politics of envy may work in focus groups and in a handful of divisive congressional campaigns. But in choosing the leader who will occupy the Oval Office for the next four years, voters require much more [than] a strategy that appeals [to] resentment and class envy. In short, they want hope and change. Sooner rather than later, all the president’s men had better figure out that what matters to voters is not Mitt Romney’s past at Bain Capital but America’s future in a challenging new century.
Despite a growing backlash from his fellow Democrats, President Obama has doubled down on his attacks on Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital. But the strategy could backfire in ways Obama did not anticipate. After all, if Romney’s record in private equity is fair game, then so is Obama’s record in public equity — and that record is not pretty.
Since taking office, Obama has invested billions of taxpayer dollars in private businesses, including as part of his stimulus spending bill. Many of those investments have turned out to be unmitigated disasters — leaving in their wake bankruptcies, layoffs, criminal investigations and taxpayers on the hook for billions…
All that cronyism and corruption is catching up with the administration. According to Politico, “The Energy Department’s inspector general has launched more than 100 criminal investigations” related to the department’s green-energy programs.