Obama to Target Congress in 2012 Re-election Campaign
President Obama is heading into his re-election campaign with plans to step up his offensive against an unpopular Congress, concluding that he cannot pass any major legislation in 2012 because of Republican hostility toward his agenda.
The most vivid historical antecedent for Barack Obama’s strategy is Harry S. Truman, who ran a come-from-behind campaign in 1948 by running against a “do-nothing Congress.”
Mr. Obama’s election-year strategy is an attempt to capitalize on his recent victory on a short-term extension of the payroll tax cut and on his rising poll numbers. As the stage is set for November, he intends to hammer the theme of economic justice for ordinary Americans rather than continue his legislative battles with Congressional Republicans, said Joshua R. Earnest, the president’s deputy press secretary, previewing the White House’s strategy.
“In terms of the president’s relationship with Congress in 2012,” Mr. Earnest said at a briefing, “the president is no longer tied to Washington, D.C.” Winning a full-year extension of the cut in payroll taxes is the last “must-do” piece of legislation for the White House, he said.
However the White House chooses to frame Mr. Obama’s strategy, it amounts to a wholesale makeover of the young senator who won the presidency in 2008 by promising to change the culture of Washington, rise above the partisan fray and seek compromises.
After three years in office, Mr. Obama is gambling on a go-it-alone approach. In the coming weeks, he will further showcase measures he is taking on his own to revive the economy, Mr. Earnest said, declining to give details.
Mr. Obama has used his executive authority in recent weeks to promote the hiring of returning veterans and help students pay back their college loans. Underscoring the jobs theme, Mr. Obama plans to return to the road, starting with a trip to Cleveland on Wednesday to speak about the economy.