Obama struggles to recapture old election magic

President Barack Obama: Can he reconnect with voters? (AP)

President Barack Obama tried to recapture some of the big-stage excitement of his 2008 campaign Sunday, imploring voters not to reward what he called Republican cynicism and incompetence by sitting out the Nov. 2 elections.

The president delivered one of his most stinging indictments yet of the GOP record to several thousand people under blue skies in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood.

Obama acknowledged that many Americans are frustrated, especially about the economy. He said Republicans have decided “to ride that frustration and anger” without providing solutions. And he said congressional Republicans deliberately opposed his administration and the Democratic majority on almost every issue, in hopes that stalemate would depress Democratic turnout in the midterm elections.

“If I said there were fish in the sea, they said ‘no,’” the president said. “They figured ‘if Obama fails, then we win.’”

Reminding voters of their enthusiasm for his presidential campaign, the president said, “we need you as fired up as you were in 2008.”

Obama’s 28-minute speech was the second of four planned large rallies designed to spur Democratic turnout to dampen what many expect to be big GOP victories in House, Senate and gubernatorial elections.

Sunday’s event, before a mostly black audience, was somewhat smaller and less ebullient than last week’s rally on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison. Still, organizers said more than 18,000 people turned out, including those in overflow lots who listened on speakers.

Obama repeated many of his familiar themes, such as the claim that Republicans drove the economy into a ditch before he took office, and then they refused to help Democrats extract it.

But he dwelt on the topic at some length. “The Republicans messed up so bad, left such a big mess,” he said. “The hole we’re climbing out of is so deep.”

Obama said about 8 million Americans had lost jobs before his economic policies could start taking effect. “It’s going to take us a while to get out of this hole,” he said.

Republicans want to increase the debt to continue a major tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, he said, yet they “lecture us on fiscal responsibility.”

Vice President Joe Biden, who was born in Scranton, Pa., introduced Obama with a three-minute speech. Democratic Senate nominee Joe Sestak also spoke briefly.

It’s unclear whether the president can stir up enough Democratic passion to avert a GOP takeover of the House, which would require a net pickup of 40 seats.

Democrats confront not only listless voters who feel this year’s elections are not nearly as exciting and meaningful as his record-breaking election was. They also must cope with liberals who feel Obama and congressional Democrats have let them down.

John Duda, 46, a Veterans Administration physician who attended Sunday’s rally, said he thinks liberals are somewhat disenchanted that Obama had to make compromises on major issues such as energy and health care. Duda said he saw no reason for dropping a government-run health insurance option that would compete with private insurers.

“We’re probably better off,” Duda said, “but there wasn’t this sea-change” that people had expected from an Obama presidency.

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Associated Press writer Marc Levy contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

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3 Responses to "Obama struggles to recapture old election magic"

  1. woody188  October 11, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    If current trends continue, we will see employment levels where they were before the crash…by 2020. It’s costing an average of $195,000 in stimulus to create one job. That’s nearly 5 years worth of the average families wages of $40,000 per year.

    But it’s more than the economy. It’s the broken promise of change that is eating people up. We expected more from Obama. Of course, we expected Junior to not gallivant across the globe nation building, and look what happened. So to have two outright liars in a row, making promises and breaking them almost immediately once in power, it’s just been too much for many to handle.

    We’re sick of these two parties being for the same things except for dividing “hot button” issues like abortion and gay marriage. Everywhere it matters they are the same.

    -In trade, globalism.
    -In the economy, Keynesian debt.
    -Labor, outsourced and off-shored.
    -Defense, unending spending, dwindling returns, continued global expansion of empire.
    -Energy, fossil fuels, with increasing “green” taxes.

    There is no real choice. There is no real change.

    I’m always told to not waste my vote on third party candidates. But as history has shown us, the only wasted vote is a vote for either of the two major parties. Voting for the lesser of two evils is still a vote in favor of evil. Vote third party, non-incumbent and independent, or else we will continue down this path to our eventual demise.

  2. Eve  October 11, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Woody188,

    Well said.

    We need to change American minds who still believe the facade of “voting for a 3rd party wastes a vote.”

    If they do not vote their conscience then they have wasted their vote.
    Voting for the lesser of two evils is a waste of a vote.
    Not voting at all, in pure disgust of this facade is better than wasting a vote, voting for one of the two “chosen” parties.

    Wasn’t it Mark Twain who said something like “if voting mattered they wouldn’t let us do it.” Something like that I believe.

    That being said, thank you for your post. It makes me feel hopeful that all is not lost.

    • woody188  October 11, 2010 at 10:52 pm

      Yes we are of like minds. But I grow weary of shouting into the wind, and have started to concentrate more on my family and friends survival versus “saving” the nation. I don’t think it can be saved at this point. I don’t even believe in voting and have not since 2004, but I still go cast a vote. Stupid hope.

      Anyhow, I enjoy your comments as well. We still grow in numbers, but I fear it is too late to make any difference in the outcome.

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