Last Tuesday (4/10) began the first official week of the real Presidential campaign. With Rick Santorum’s announcement that he was suspending his campaign, the battle was finally joined, Republicans ended the circular firing squad of the GOP primary season and turned their attention to President Obama.
Despite the fact that the President’s reelection campaign was ready for the campaign to begin, the first official week of the Obama vs. Romney campaign turned out to be an unsuccessful one for Obama. In fact it was pretty darn lousy.
It wasn’t any Republican effort that spoiled Obama’s week the injuries were self-inflicted.
For Mitt Romney to win the election he needs to keep the attention on Barack Obama’s record as president. On the other hand, Obama strategy is to keep people from looking at his record, instead he relies on “fake issues” to deflect voter attention away from him and on to the Republicans.
According to a March Rasmussen survey, the economy is the number one issue for American Voters and by a large margin, 82% felt the economy was an important issue, the number two issue was healthcare 20 percentage points back.
With unemployment well over 8%, polls showing most voters want Obamacare repealed, and the feeling that taxes are too high, you cant blame Obama’s campaign operatives for inventing issues to rally the rally voters around.
For several months the Obama campaign was cultivating two issues to use in the upcoming general election drive; “the GOP war on women”, and “the Republicans only care about the rich.” Both issues were dealt major blows this week.
A Democratic Strategist who didn’t think before she spoke blew up that “GOP war against woman.”
What was originally a freedom of religion issue, the Catholic Church objecting to Obama’s rule that they would have pay for sterilization, the day after abortion pill, and contraception as part of their Obamacare requirements, became a “Republicans hate women campaign. What was originally a discussion about whether there was a constitutional right to free contraception became a distorted claim that Republican’s wanted to outlaw contraception. This was a trap set by the president’s reelection campaign willingly walked into by the GOP candidates.
However, Tuesday night Democratic strategist and DNC adviser Hilary Rosen changed all that when she lobbed an insult at Ann Romney, suggesting that the 64-year-old mother of five and grandmother of 16, who recently battled cancer and is still fighting MS, never worked a day in her life. The firestorm was almost immediate.
The Obama campaign was quick to disassociate from Rosen. David Axelrod quickly pointed out that Rosen had nothing to do with the campaign or administration; she was simply an employee of CNN, which proved to be a lie. Within 24 hours it was revealed that Rosen visited the Obama administration in the White House at least 35 times at least 5 times meeting directly with the president.
Not that I am trying to imply that the president in any way agreed with the words coming out of Hillary Rosen’s mouth (he did however, approve of what Rosen was supposed to say that Ann Romney never worked a day out of the house in her life).
Why was this so bad for the president?
First of all it pulled the rug out from under the “GOP war on women.” In the middle of all the confusion, the head of the Congressional Black Caucus, one of the most liberal organizations in Congress declared trying to brand the GOP as conducting a war on women was a false issue. But it no longer mattered what they thought because Hillary Rosen made that issue toxic for Obama.
Even more damaging to Obama’s campaign is what the incident did to the GOP. As a result of Rosen’s statement, conservative Republicans who slow to accept Romney rallied around the presumptive nominee and his wife. That would have happened anyway, but thanks to Ms. Rosen this happened much earlier than it would have.
Even worse for the Obama campaign is that the President’s Buffet rule push might end up hurting him with independent voters, the key group in the upcoming election.
A Democratic Party organization called Third Way released a poll last week that showed the Buffet rule might not be a winning one amongst independents. Among voters without a strongly held opinion of either Mr. Romney or Obama, 80 percent said they’d be more likely to support a candidate focused on economic growth and opportunity, while 15 percent said they would choose one emphasizing income inequality.
Because Obama wants to embarrass his opponents, this week the same Senate that has not passed a budget during the Obama’s entire presidency, is wasting time to debate and vote on a Buffett Rule which will not pass.
This week the “battle was joined,” as Mitt Romney became the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party and president Obama may have lost both of his memes designed to deflect voters away from his record. But this is only week one, there will be plenty of ups and downs for both candidates between now and November.