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Media View: Reaction to Obama's plan to seek re-election

Matthew Davis | 14:32 UK time, Monday, 4 April 2011

President Barack Obama


Commentators dissect US President Barack Obama's announcement that he intends to seek re-election in 2012.

The New York Times' Michael Shear notes that the challenge the president faces in 2012 is "far different than the one he faced as a relatively unknown first-term senator seeking to reclaim the presidency for Democrats after eight years of George W. Bush's administration." He writes:

"Then, Mr Obama pledged to confront rising health care costs, an economy that was showing signs of weakness, a nation dependent on foreign oil and a "tragic and costly war that should never have been waged. His message - often boiled down to just 'hope' and 'change' - was simple: 'Elect me,' he said, 'and things will change.'
"Now, Mr Obama must defend his own unpopular wars, an economic recovery that remains fragile, fiscal policies that have drawn skeptics, and energy policies that have stalled in the face of natural and manmade disasters.
"And most of all, the president must find a way to explain how he made good on promises to change the way Washington conducts itself in spite of a brutally divisive health care fight and an ongoing budget standoff that appears to have bogged down in the same politics that Mr Obama decried as a candidate in 2008."

Richard Adams observes in the Guardian that the president's campaign announcement was a thoroughly modern style of declaration:

"Barack Obama's official announcement of his re-election bid for the 2012 presidential election is a million miles away from the traditional setting of a brass band on a stage decked with American flags.
"Using modern media to the full, the first news of Obama's announcement came this morning via the internet, YouTube video, Twitter and in an email to supporters from Obama himself...
"The 2012 campaign's opening video to supporters, seen above, is even more unusual in that it does not show Obama himself. Instead it concentrates on the words of 'real Americans', talking about their responses to Obama. 'I don't agree with President Obama on everything,' says Ed from North Carolina, 'but I respect him.' The aim of the video is to energise Obama's supporters and reignite the winning campaign spirit from 2008."

That the announcement was widely anticipated and came as no surprise is best summed up by a headline in the Los Angeles Times:

"Dog bites man: Obama's 2012 reelection campaign announcement video"

Andrew Malcolm goes on to say in the article that a key component is money:

"Barack Obama's campaign says it needs $1 billion to re-convince Americans that the third sitting senator to become president is the real hope and change guy. And there's still so much to do and money to spend.
"But first, comes the money-raising part. And coincidentally, the second quarter of 2011 starts today for political fundraising and reporting. A big reported number at the end of June might impress some people, scare some others and stop all this media mumbling about Obama's vulnerability just because the unemployment is still big and there's a third war going."

Kimberley Schwandt notes on the Fox News website that "Monday's date also has a little play on numbers: the announcement comes on the fourth day of the fourth month for the 44th president."

"Obama's re-election effort is going to be based in Chicago, a different approach to many of his predecessors and an attempt for the campaign to be seen as outside of Washington. He's expected to go to the windy city in two weeks for a fundraising event. Vice President Biden will be in the key political state of New Hampshire Monday and holding an event with supporters in the afternoon."

Michael O'Brien says in congressional newspaper The Hill that the formal filing of papers to run in 2012 "will give Obama the legal opportunity to begin using the campaign infrastructure his staffers have built behind the scenes, and begin an aggressive fundraising effort that could net him close to $1 billion in donations between now and the fall of next year."

"Polls testing Obama against generic Republican candidates or any of those GOP contenders suggest that Obama, like many incumbent presidents, starts the campaign with an early advantage over his would-be challenger. That advantage is almost certain to winnow, though, as the 2012 campaign reaches full-swing next year and voters start to pay more attention, and familiarize themselves with the Republican nominee.
"Regardless, political analysts have said Obama has positioned himself well for another run, shaking off what he called the "shellacking" of the 2010 midterm elections.
"Perhaps the biggest variable facing Obama is the state of the economy next fall. Polls of voters repeatedly rank the economy and employment as top concerns going into the election, and dissatisfaction with the pace of the recovery drove Republican victories in the 2010 midterm elections."

However, Time's Michael Grunwald suggests that Mr Obama's pitch to voters could be a difficult one:

"If you want credit for stopping a disaster, you have to wait until the disaster is already under way to act, like President Clinton did in Bosnia.
"This is a problem for public policy because preventing disasters is infinitely preferable to stopping them in progress. And it's a political problem for Obama, who kicked off his re-election campaign on Monday. He is the counterfactual President, not just on his Libya policy, but on almost all his policies. And as his aides often complain, "I prevented a disaster" is a lousy political slogan. Or as Democratic Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts has put it, "It would have been even worse without me" ain't much of a bumper sticker."

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