Obama’s audacious strategy: Desperation or deliberation?

By Ken Feltman

When a candidate attempts to reprise a past campaign or its slogan, the message almost always stresses “continuation.”

The candidate asks for more time to complete unfinished work. President Obama’s case for continuation started by saying that the other guy would be even worse. Then it tried to scare voters. Now the message is that Romney is so damaged and the voters so wary that continuation of the last four years is the logical choice. This reprise of the “change” slogan is an attempt to recreate the spark, the magic, deep within the Obama base.

Obama is saying, “George Bush left a bigger mess than I thought and the Republicans didn’t help me clean it up but I am still the best person for the job.” That is a cynical message, of course, but it has a subtleness that may work with the Obama base and wavering voters who normally lean Democratic. It tells us that the Obama campaign may detect erosion of support among voters who were solidly for Obama last time.

Think what you will about Obama now claiming that he can change what he could not change before, but admire the craftsmanship of the Obama message: The previous Republican president left it so screwed up, and the Republicans were so uncooperative, that it took me four years of hard work to even get to the starting line. Finally, I am here and I have experience. Finally, I can change things. And, by the way, Romney doesn’t understand anything.

I hate to admit it but these guys are good. They give the word “audacious” a fresh meaning.

(A version of this article appeared at Politico.com, September 24, 2012)

About Radnor Reports

Ken Feltman is past-president of the International Association of Political Consultants and the American League of Lobbyists. He is retired chairman of Radnor Inc., an international political consulting and government relations firm in Washington, D.C. Known as a coalition builder, he has participated in election campaigns and legislative efforts in the United States and several other countries.
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