If you suffered whiplash after Team Obama’s sudden change in strategy after the last debate, you weren’t alone. After waiting until almost literally the last moment to release Barack Obama’s second-term agenda, suddenly the campaign rushed out an ad and a 20-page booklet that consists of mostly full-color pictures out to the press — not coincidentally, the day after the last debate in which Obama might have been able to make its case to a national audience. Politico reports that few are impressed with this move, not even Obama’s fellow Democrats:
Everything was going great for Barack Obama until about 9:04 on the night of Oct. 3, when Mitt Romney startled everybody by refusing to live up to his caricature as The Worst Candidate Ever.
Romney’s late-game comeback — an unexpected assertion of presidential competence in front of 67 million viewers — robbed Obama of his momentum and forced the president’s team to make a subtle yet significant change to their closing argument in the critical last two weeks of the 2012 campaign.
“Unexpected” by whom? Team Obama? Democrats? The media? After all, this is a man who was a successful governor for four years in a state where his party is a distinct minority, who successfully turned around the collapsing Salt Lake City Olympics, and who made several fortunes as an executive in business and finance. He has a much better resumé for presidential leadership than Obama did in 2008.
If the media, campaign advisers, and the candidate himself found Romney’s presidential bearing “unexpected,” that speaks to their own incompetence and not any surprise in Romney’s ability to handle the pressure — especially in relative terms to Obama’s collapse in that first debate. That incompetence at Team O has them scrambling for a Plan B now:
Instead, the pressure is now on Obama to prove himself — and oh so late in the game. That led his campaign on Tuesday to release a detailed, bullet-point plan for his second term — a formal agenda his team had long resisted despite appeals from the likes of Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and James Carville, and an army of basic-cable liberals, who said the president needed to spend less time cutting down Romney and more time elevating himself.
“Had to do it … It’s all about earning people’s votes,” emailed a Democrat close to the campaign when the plan was unveiled hours after the third and final presidential debate in Boca Raton, Fla. …
Obama officials publicly claim the plan was in the works all along and doesn’t represent a major change. But many Democrats and observers see the Tuesday messaging switch as proof Obama leaned too heavily for too long on a negative “Hit Mitt” strategy, at the expense of a sustained push to convince skeptical voters the president deserves another four years.
I’ll have more on the “agenda” tomorrow, which is really not much more than a regurgitation of Obama’s first term. Why did it take them so long to do what all incumbents normally do up front, which is to explainwhy they want a second term at all? According to Glenn Thrush, Obama didn’t see a need to do it while his campaign was making Romney “squirm” under the avalanche of personal attacks.
Again, if that was really the case, that speaks to the “unexpected” incompetence of the candidate — and also to his contempt for voters. Suddenly, Obama’s discovered that voters won’t just vote for him just because he calls Romney names, and now with just 14 days to go, Obama suddenly rushes out a pamphlet filled with pictures and curiously bereft of actual change to woo voters he treated with disdain for months. Good luck with that strategy.