Re-election campaigns require unique strategy. Incumbents of any office can rarely, if ever, rely on the same message and technique that got them elected in the first place.
If a candidate runs for office for the first time, claiming that Washington is broken, he or she cannot run on that same theory four years later after they become part of the broken problem.
Evidence of that need to change strategy was shown by President Obama during his recent visit to Colorado.
President Obama employed his new populist campaign theme, and even christened it with a clever new title, “class warrior”. This new theme is a departure from his optimistic and hopeful campaign themes of 2008. This new theme is also better equipped to combat his future GOP opponent who will find it very difficult to support any new taxes.
The GOP created this tax trap and Obama obviously plans to use it, on a purely populist level, even if the math doesn’t add up.
We’ve already discussed how simply taxing the wealthy in this country is not going to pay for all of the different programs and ideas President Obama is proposing. However, proposing to tax the rich will create a very effective and definitive line between Obama and his GOP opponent.
And, from the sounds of what Obama said in Denver on Tuesday, he is willing to make that line the one in the sand that may define the 2012 campaign.
Obama is betting that independent voters are predominantly middle class, and that this same middle class believes the wealthy should be taxed more. He’s also betting that this is a point that the GOP can’t argue without sounding like they are defending bankers, lawyers and CEOs.
It’s a fairly risky bet that Obama is making. If the GOP can find enough small business owners and farmers that are technically considered wealthy, Obama might find that his populist stance may get complicated.
However, finding those small business owners and farmers will be tougher than finding bankers and CEOs, and you can guarantee that Obama’s campaign will find plenty of the latter.
My point is that while Obama’s strategy is not foolproof, it could prove to be a solid move in an environment where the have nots greatly outnumber the haves. But it will really come down to voters making decisions with their heads or their hearts.
If the middle class decides with their heads, they may see that Obama’s strategy, while feeling good, won’t do enough to truly make a real difference in deficit reduction. If they are seeking a real solution, they may simply not buy it.
However, if the middle class decides with their hearts, they may be able to ignore the fact that taxing the wealthy won’t solve all of the problems with the deficit, and accept the limited number of problems that it can solve. If they can accept a solution that doesn’t address the entire problem, but certainly feels like justice, they will buy it.
President Obama used Denver as a major jumping off point for his election campaign in 2008. History may prove that he has used Denver again as a major campaign launching pad. But this time, he has officially donned the armor of a class warrior.
If the middle class wants to follow him into battle remains to be seen.
About The Blogger
– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.