We are told that the president will make a “major speech” in Ohio today that will serve as a “reboot” of his campaign message. Here’s what Obama staff seem to be telling media types, per The Hill:
“He will crystallize the argument as to what this campaign is about,” said one Obama aide, adding that Obama is expected to reiterate the need to boost the public sector and put firefighters, police officers and teachers back to work.
Obama will also cast Romney’s policies as a return to the years of former President George W. Bush, which Obama’s team says would include “more budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy and fewer rules for Wall Street.”
Aides say Obama will say that the election offers the American people a chance to break the stalemate between two distinctly different views on how to grow the economy, create jobs for the middle class, and pay down the debt. Obama is also expected to say that Romney and Republicans in Congress believe that eliminating regulations and cutting taxes by trillions of dollars, that the market will improve.
Obama on the other hand believes that the economy grows from the middle class up and not from the top down and has an economic plan that will focus on education, energy, innovation, infrastructure, and a tax code that creates jobs and pays down the debt in a balanced fashion.
Regular readers know I’m all for any message that focuses on the choice of governing philosophies the two candidates represent. But there is some danger that the “Obama is struggling” media chatter that has made a “reboot” seem appropriate will overwhelm the message. It’s a bit absurd. As Ezra Klein notes today, for all the talk of “Obama’s bad week” or “bad month,” there’s really only one significantly adverse thing that’s occurred recenctly: the May jobs report.
But the May jobs report illustrated the extreme peril associated with any Obama message that fished into the Romney/MSM assertion that the election is a referendum on how voters currently feel about the economy. That’s pretty much what the Democracy Corps memo everyone’s talking about concluded as well. A “reboot” isn’t needed because of the “private sector is fine” gaffe or the alleged rebellion of the Clintonites or the sudden bullishness on Romney on Wall Street or any of the other snail’s-eye-view crap we’ve been hearing the last week or so. It’s needed to reflect a full commitment by the Obama campaign to a comparative message, in the teeth of all the naysaying from the opposition and the news media and half the political scientists in Christendom who are saying swing voters are too stupid to make comparisons and the incumbent’s only hope is to continue happy-talking about his record.
Greg Sargent’s assessment of what the “reboot” speech should accomplish is pretty much my own:
Perhaps the clearest way to judge Obama’s speech is with this: How vivid a picture is Obama painting of what voters’ lives will be like, and what the American future we’re leaving to our children will look like, under a Romney presidency versus an Obama second term?
There are many layers to this contrast — taxes, entitlements, economic growth, health care, the role and scope of government, our energy future and the fate of the planet — but ultimately getting this right with total clarity seems like his best hope of solving the overlapping political difficulties he faces. I assume Team Obama already knows this, but the election will be all about the status quo under Obama unless he can make it about what each respective presidency would actually mean to people. It may be the only contrast voters are willing to listen to.