Articles

Obama's Campaign Is Off to a Rocky Start

May 17, 2012

May has been a bad month for President Obama's re-election campaign. Let's review some of the lowlights.

First, Team Obama politicized the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death on May 2 by releasing a video claiming that Mitt Romney would not have ordered the strike. The video didn't pay much tribute to the Navy SEALs who actually carried out the perilous mission. The whole thing came across as ungracious and egocentric.

On May 4, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that only 115,000 new jobs were created in April while 342,000 Americans became so discouraged that they dropped out of the workforce. When unemployment creeps down because people are leaving the labor force, it's evidence of a sick economy, not a robust recovery.

The next day, Mr. Obama formally kicked off his re-election campaign with a rally at Ohio State University. But "there were a lot of empty seats," according to the Toledo Blade. Vacant chairs and a nearly empty arena floor are not good optics for a political campaign. To add insult to injury, a New York Times reporter described it and a Virginia rally later that day as having at times "the feeling of a concert by an aging rock star."

On Sunday, May 6, Vice President Joe Biden said on "Meet the Press" that he was "absolutely comfortable with . . . men marrying men, women marrying women." The White House had to scramble, immediately reaffirming Mr. Obama's support for traditional marriage. But three days later, he told ABC's Robin Roberts, "I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."

Why the shift? Newsweek's Andrew Sullivan credits the need for campaign dollars from gay donors and votes from now apathetic young men and women under 30. New York Magazine's John Heilemann quotes unnamed White House aides who say that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's signing of legislation legalizing same-sex marriage led Mr. Obama to shift privately early this year. According to Mr. Heilemann's reporting, Mr. Obama was going to wait a month or two to maximize the political payback from a public conversion, and the need for campaign cash and youthful voters was part of the equation.

Whatever the reasons, the president's announcement came across as political: 67% in a May 11-13 CBS News/New York Times survey said the president announced his public support for same-sex marriage "for political reasons" while 24% said he did it because "he thinks it's right." A USA/Gallup poll of May 10 found only 11% of independents said they would be more likely to vote for him because of his shift, and 23% said they would be less likely.

While this kerfuffle played out, West Virginia and North Carolina Democrats held their presidential primaries on May 8. In West Virginia, 40% chose Keith Judd, a felon in a Texas federal correctional facility, over Mr. Obama. In battleground North Carolina, nearly 21% expressed "no preference" for president.

Then on May 11, Mr. Obama traveled to Nevada to tout the success of his "Hardest Hit Fund," launched two years ago, in staving off foreclosures. But a government report that morning revealed it had helped only 30,640 homeowners, not the three million to four million the administration originally promised.

On Wednesday, the news was that Mr. Obama's fundraising dropped to $43.6 million in April from $53 million in March. At this stage, he will be hard pressed to reach his 2008 total of $750 million, let alone the $1 billion goal his campaign set last year.

The president has trailed or been tied with Mr. Romney in 16 of the last 29 Gallup five- and seven-day tracking polls. This during a period when, with significant organizational and money advantages and no primary opponent, he should be pounding his Republican challenger in the polls.

In 2008, Team Obama ran a first-rate campaign. They made relatively few unforced errors and capitalized on openings. Things look very different this time. The re-election effort is off-key and off-balance, making the president's strategic weaknesses more apparent. His record is uninspiring. He has no explanation for his first term and no rationale for a second.

Mr. Obama may have difficulty leading and governing but has been considered an effective campaigner. Events in May are starting to call that into question.

This article originally appeared on WSJ.com on Wednesday, May 17, 2012.

Related Article

C03936fa5333b9c3fcfdaaaa3124b59c
February 11, 2016 |
Article
...
B350db25962b1950c212c2f610c7c793
February 04, 2016 |
Article
It was quite a turnaround. After he led in Iowa most of December, Ted Cruz’s numbers started falling Jan. 6, after Donald Trump declared him ineligible for the presidency because he was born in Canada. But Mr. Cruz unleashed a disciplined, d...
897bec66c6e7606c9943eefb94e30e5e
January 28, 2016 |
Article
If Donald Trump doesn’t show up at the Republican debate on Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa, it might be enough to blow his lead—now at 5.7 points in the state, according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls. The Donald has re...
C17c451d1769fabb67d221c895f48064
January 21, 2016 |
Article
This isn’t the cakewalk she expected. While not mentioning his name often, Hillary Clinton has tried marginalizing Bernie Sanders by moving left, narrowing the distance between them on income inequality and Wall Street regulation, then whacking h...

Button karlsbooks 8115560310d99dcf7066a6791c2abb0e6e44efbce9d2a69ac5febbadd06cf979
Button readinglist 0c30cf88cf3c963eb72013f1b5906b6848694ba842d6efa0de8d2d3efbfd8fd2
Button nextapperance d1e601b7044cba97bcfe46cdf8bc572ab09797ca56157b5f533c25051217bb69