Obama’s fun return to campaign-style politics

Obama on the campaign trail (AP)

After a rousing campaign rally for New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine last summer, President Barack Obama flashed a broad smile to an aide as he boarded his helicopter back to the White House.

“That was the most fun I’ve had in a while,” he said.

Obama likes campaigning. And it shows. He relishes the chance to shed his jacket, roll up his sleeves, dust off his rhetoric and energize a political crowd.

During this week’s health care push on Capitol Hill, Obama and senior advisers have been telling lawmakers that they will not be left standing alone in a difficult election year if they cast a tough vote for the health care overhaul.

But with Obama’s popular support at its lowest level since he took office, it’s unclear which Democrats will want to wrap themselves in his presidency as the party heads into the midterm election campaign.

When Obama campaigned for his health care overhaul last week in Missouri — he narrowly lost the state to Republican Sen. John McCain in 2008 — presumptive Senate candidate Robin Carnahan was conveniently away. At a fundraiser for Senate Democrats and strong-willed Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Obama used his rhetoric to distance McCaskill from his presidency even as he raised cash for her 2012 re-election campaign.

“She’s a standout because she speaks truth to power. She’s not afraid of anybody, speaks her mind,” Obama said. “Sometimes she tells me things. And I’m the president.”

The line got a laugh in St. Louis, but it underscores the White House’s uncomfortable situation.

In interviews with more than a dozen Democrats in Washington and in competitive races across the country, the overwhelming sense is that Obama will be most useful in races that depend on big turnouts of the Democratic base that rallied to his cause in 2008 — contests like the one to fill Obama’s former Senate seat in Illinois. He is far more popular there than he is nationally; home-state Democrats still identify with the president.

He’s also a strong fundraiser, drawing some $3 million in just one Chicago night last year.

Watch for an election schedule to emerge with Obama at lots of fundraising dinners with the party faithful, a familiar — and safe — role for any president. And look for party officials to keep him away from moderate Democrats and imperiled incumbents who risk being branded as White House yes-men and being tarred with Obama’s problems.

Also, look for Obama:

_In races that hinge on high black voter turnout, such as Virginia’s 5th Congressional District. Rep. Tom Perriello has been a loyal vote for the White House even though he won by just 745 votes in a district that is 23 percent black. Include Ohio Rep. Steve Driehaus’ re-election bid in a Cincinnati-area district that is 29 percent black. A surge of black voters helped both win in 2008; Obama would be key to giving them — and others like them — a second term.

_In the 49 districts Obama carried that elected Republican members of Congress in 2008. Those places knew and liked their incumbent lawmakers. Taking advantage of growing anti-incumbent feelings, Democrats hope voters in such districts may be persuaded to cast a ballot again on Obama’s urging — even though he isn’t on the ticket.

_With candidates whose fundraising has been lackluster, such as Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, whose campaign war chest is a fraction of those of his Republican challengers. Obama already has visited fundraisers for his fellow Harvard Law School graduate.

_In hometowns of lawmakers who were early endorsers of Obama’s presidential bid, such as New Hampshire’s Paul Hodes, who is leaving the House to run for the Senate. Also look for frequent trips to Pennsylvania, a perennial swing state whose senior senator, Arlen Specter, left the GOP for the Democratic Party last year.

_In districts where Democrats barely won on the coattails of Obama, such as Ohio’s 15th District. Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy went through a monthlong recount that gave her a win with less than 1 percentage point. Any Obama appearance in that district, which includes Ohio State University, helps the president’s 2012 chances, even if Kilroy exits Washington after just one term.

_In true-blue Democratic districts where he can raise cash. Look at his regular trips to places such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

The White House also will use Vice President Joe Biden to raise money and help Democrats in blue-collar and rural districts where voters love his folksy style. On Monday, Biden made his 51st political stop, campaigning in Ohio for Driehaus, an uncertain vote for the president’s health care overhaul.

While Republicans will be seeking to turn the midterm elections into a national referendum on Obama and his policies, Democratic campaign officials will be working to ensure that voters see House and Senate campaigns as a choice between the candidates on the ballot.

Obama’s fine with that, as long as he gets to hit the campaign trail again.

In his view, a hoarse Obama is better than an even-toned one. An Obama who strains to shout over a cheering crowd is happier than the one seen in the Rose Garden. He favors high school gyms in small towns in the heartland over ornate halls of power in Washington, raucous rallies over somber signing ceremonies.

Much more fun than the workaday labors of governing for sure.

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6 Responses to "Obama’s fun return to campaign-style politics"

  1. griff  March 18, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Yep, campaign-style politics. A license to lie and have people actually believe you.

    Every time I see this posuer I’m reminded of the classic Triumph tune ‘Ordinary Man,’ circa 1981…

    Look in the mirror tell me what do you see
    Or can you lie to yourself like you’re lyin’ to me
    Do you fall asleep real easy feelin’ justified and right
    Or do you wake up feelin’ empty in the middle of the night
    You want to think you’re different but you know you never can
    You’re just another ordinary man

    Hey politician, can’t believe a word you say
    Almighty media, whose truth’d you sell today?
    Watchdog of justice, who keeps their eye on you?
    Con man, song in hand, who you singin’ to?
    The more I get to see, the less I understand
    I’m just another ordinary man

    Ordinary man
    Comes a time to take a stand

    No rest for the wicked – they get it while they can
    The preachers and the teachers and your local Congressman
    Everybody plays the game they played since time began
    Lawyers and accountant – your media man

    Everybody’s talkin’ but nothin’s gettin’ said
    You’re lookin’ for the truth you better look inside your head
    I see the flash of lightnin’
    I hear the thunder roll
    A hungry knife, a slice of life
    It cuts another soul

    Power finds a way
    To those who take a stand
    Stand up ordinary man

    Once I thought the truth was gonna set me free
    But now I feel the chains of its responsibility
    I will not play the puppet I will not play it safe
    I’ll give myself away with a blind and simple faith
    I’m just the same as you I just do the best I can
    That’s the only answer…

    For an ordinary man

  2. Carl Nemo  March 18, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks Griff for the stirring lyrics. It gave me an uplift. I tried to find a version of “Ordinary Man” using the words you supplied which is either the original or a variant. No matter. Here’s one sung by Christy Moore a male Irish folksinger. This version written by Peter Haynes. It’s a stirring, driving tune for sure and reflects the plight in which America finds itself in these times after thirty years of of evil, traitorous knaves running this nation from Reagan to present…!

    What’s interesting is this version was written during the reign of Margaret Thatcher, the British PM during Reagan/H.W. Bush terms in office. / : |

    Enjoy….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsmAMKUIXbE

    Carl Nemo **==

    • griff  March 18, 2010 at 8:30 pm

      Amazingly I’m very fond of Irish folk music. Here’s a link to the acoustic version by original Triumph guitarist/songwriter Rik Emmett with guitarist Dave Dunlop.

      • griff  March 18, 2010 at 8:31 pm

        Oops…forgot top paste the link…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-OkkxHjJD0

        • Carl Nemo  March 18, 2010 at 9:46 pm

          Thanks Griff for the link. I didn’t mean to overshadow your post, but the words were so powerful and spot-on that I searched for the musical version. I enjoyed the blues delivery, but I’d surely love to hear Christy Moore’s pipes hammer out the lyrics you supplied.

          Make sure you listen to “Only our Rivers are Free” which is a followup tune to this version of “Ordinary Man” with a Brit slant. It’s accompanied by a slide show which focuses on the British oppression of Northern Ireland.

          Rest assured much of our current financial strife was orchestrated and blessed by “The City of London” banking cabal along with Goldman Sachs, AIG and a host of shadowy banking entities that’s had it’s hand in controlling planet earth since the days of the British East India Company. A lot of dirt can be traced back to the British hierarchy even in our times. The common people may be our allies on the field of battle, but the crown and their well-connected Rothschild influenced bankers look upon the world simply their “cup of tea”, both to drink and piss away as they please.

          http://info-wars.org/2009/03/12/london-banking-center-at-core-of-financial-crisis/

          I’m glad to hear you like Irish folk music as myself. I’d love to hear Joan Baez do justice to “Ordinary Man”, but couldn’t find any reference to her having performed the work.

          Carl Nemo **==

  3. b mcclellan  March 18, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Thanks Griff, if leadership were only poetry, such betterment for the ordinary man.

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