September 6, 2012
The Obama campaign and its chief surrogates have spent the week here cleaning up a mess from the Sunday talk shows, when they collectively declined to answer “yes” to the question: Are Americans better off than they were four years ago?
Answering this question in the affirmative is standard practice for a president running for re-election — regardless of the circumstances he finds himself in. Vice President Joseph Biden tried to reset the campaign’s answer on Monday by telling a crowd at a rally in Detroit: “If you want to know whether we’re better off, I got a bumper sticker for you: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive!”
By the end of the Labor Day holiday, everyone on team Obama was with the program, and in the two days since, the president’s supporters have told anyone who asks — or who will listen — that Americans are better off today than they were four years ago. But that has never been President Barack Obama’s re-election message, nor his argument for why he deserves a second term. And it still isn’t. . . .
Obama’s sales pitch, essentially, is that you might not be better off than you were four years ago, but that with enough time, he can make whatever recovery you experience real and lasting. Perhaps it’s not surprising then, that Romney in his acceptance speech in Tampa, Fla., said the answer is simple — “What America needs is jobs, lots of jobs” — while a major theme of GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s speeches has been: “We can do this.”
Can Obama win re-election by convincing voters they will be better off if they give him four more years? We’ll find out.
In other words, he’s asking for a Mulligan.