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Selling The Obama Record

As the Democrats convene in Charlotte for their convention, they must move the needle towards a positive image of the past four years. With unemployment remaining high and the Romney-Ryan ticket enjoying their post-convention bounce in the polls, the Obama campaign must sell the President’s record as positive and deserving of "four more for forty-four."

Image by George Cassutto
Copyright 2012
Used with permission

The Democratic National Convention is opening tomorrow in Charlotte, North Carolina with a long list of Democratic speakers lined up to answer the Republican love fest that took place last week in Tampa. President Obama will accept the Democratic nomination on Thursday after running a quiet campaign during the primary period since he ran unopposed. He has an uphill battle to re-election as the economy continues to sputter. The Romney campaign received a modest bounce due to the addition of Paul Ryan to the ticket and the publicity of the convention, which was watched mostly by the Republican faithful on Fox News.

Obama and his Democratic surrogates seem to have a schizophrenic approach to their campaign as they kick off their party in Charlotte this week. They need to convince America’s independent voters, left-leaning Republicans, and disaffected liberals that a tepid recovery is the result of Republican obstructionism in Congress, and that a second term will bring them the hope and change Obama promised them in 2008. They can’t claim that the economy s in great shape as we saw when Obama uttered the words “the private sector is doing just fine.” He got hammered in the media for weeks after that, so painting a rosy picture of the past four years is out.

But the Obama campaign has an impressive record of accomplishments, not all of which are related to the economy. As they begin to put up  their roster of speakers in Charlotte, they can point to achievements in social issues such as gay rights and equal pay for women, and they also have foreign policy achievements such as the close of combat in Iraq and the death of Osama Bin Laden to their credit. The President has also made a point to tout his health care victory in both the passage of legislation and in the Supreme Court, which upheld the law derisively known as “Obamacare.” President Obama likes to say “that’s ok. It shows ‘Obama cares.’” President Obama continues to brag about saving the manufacturing sector in the auto industry. He believes he is able to show how America’s voters can answer Ronald Reagan’s question “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” in the affirmative.

In Tampa, Ann Romney tried to present a picture of Mitt Romney that showed how he relates to women, a key demographic Romney needs to win. Michelle Obama will also try to retain the female vote, describing President Obama as leader who has stood up for the rights of women in the area of reproductive rights, health care, and equal pay for equal work. The First Lady has the polls on her side in that the President’s likeability factor and his polling results with women far outpace those of Mitt Romney.

As long as the Obama campaign can keep its surrogates on message and in line, the public might be open to the idea that things would have been much worse after the financial crisis brought about by the laissez-faire policies of the previous administration, and that the President has the interests of the middle class at the center of what would be his second administration. His speech in Charlotte on Thursday must help the voters feel that President Obama deserves four more years to continue the successes he has achieved since he took the oath of office on January 20, 2009.  Then they may give the promise of “hope and change” one more try.

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