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What They Are Saying About Obama’s Lack Of Message

RNC Communications - January 2, 2012

Obama Senior Adviser David Axelrod: “I Speak As One Who Has Responsibilities In This Regard, So I Take A Good Deal Of The Blame” (Newsweek, 1/2/12):

Newsweek: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/01/01/inside-president-obama-s-reelection-machine.print.html

Money and manpower, however, are only as good as the message they help to convey. When I asked Obama’s top lieutenants about his image problem—how he manages to get caricatured as both a crypto-Marxist radical and an unprincipled, professorial pushover, all at the same time—they responded, almost reflexively, with the usual excuses: we inherited a terrible economy, and, anyway, we really have passed a lot of legislation. But while that analysis is basically accurate, as Beltway scorekeeping goes, it’s hardly the kind of rallying cry required to remobilize millennials and independents, key constituencies among whom Obama’s support has plummeted more than a dozen percentage points since 2008. And so Chicago is crafting a new, more combative message. “I speak as one who has responsibilities in this regard, so I take a good deal of the blame,” David Axelrod, Obama’s chief political strategist, confessed. “We took a guy who speaks about vision and values in as compelling a way as anyone of this generation, and we made him into a narrator of the day-to-day decision making of government.”

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell: Obama “Has Not Found His Voice” (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 1/1/12):

VIDEO: http://youtu.be/ha9NTY-hcGw

NBC’s David Gregory: “Andrea,  take that on. Because this is a big issue about whether President Obama has measured up as a leader. I mean, there's real fears of national decline, a sense of the country's on the wrong track. This is a campaign about big things ultimately for voters.”

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell:  “And the president is trying to respond to that. He's actually doing a video message to all of the Democratic caucus goers. He wants to be present in some fashion, so he is going to have Democratic caucusing with presidential message by video. But the point is that he has not yet found a way. He has not found his voice. And they say that The New York Times story is overwritten that he's running against Congress. That has worked for him in the payroll tax fight but he still has to find that message for the state of the union, for whatever his next platform is going to be. That is obviously the next one. To tell people how the country can be better at a time where his only economic message can be it's not as bad as it could have been. It's better than it was.”

National Journal’s Major Garrett: “The President Doesn’t Have Much Of A Record To Run On” (NBC’s “Chris Matthews Show,” 1/1/12):

VIDEO: http://youtu.be/5huIwkISjKc  

NBC’s Chris Matthews: “Major, this year, how negative is this going to get between now and November?”

National Journal’s Major Garrett:  “Well, the president doesn't have much of a record to run on and he intends to define the choice, not about what he has done, but what a republican would do that would be even worse. That's an uncomfortable place for an incumbent to be. Most successful presidential successful campaigns are about a journey taken and a journey yet to be finished. You talk about what you have done, what the country has accomplished with you and how that can be built on for the future. President Obama doesn't seem to be very much focused on the journey so far, just don't reverse. So I think it's a difficult place for the president to find.”

Matthews: “How can he run a campaign slogan of this is as good as it gets?”

Garrett:  “Or it would be worse if you look over there or if you drift over there. That’s the biggest problem for President Obama. The Republicans will say are you satisfied with these three years? Are you happy with the journey we have been on?”

Time’s Mark Halperin: “Strongest Message” That The Transformational Obama Failed To Show (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 1/1/12):

VIDEO: http://youtu.be/6_k5xOxjEiI

NBC’s David Gregory:  “Mark Halperin the argument is that the transformational leader that President Obama was supposed to be, the truth teller, to tell Americans what they needed to know, not what they wanted to know, that that leader has failed to show.”

Time’s Mark Halperin:  “It's clearly the strongest message any Republican can have.”


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