COMMENTARY | In President Barack Obama's major campaign speech on the economy, he avoided a repeat of the "private sector is doing fine" gaffe that has placed him on the defensive.
More important, at least to me, Obama in Cleveland started to move away from his past reprisals about inheriting an economic crisis from the George W. Bush presidency, although at 54 minutes he was more than a tad too long-winded and lapsed for a few snippets into the negative mode.
Obama has had a self-defense basis for making this point, but when he joins spokespeople in relentlessly repeating the economic lament, he comes across as making excuses, whining and playing a political blame game. Obama doesn't need to do this, considering that a Gallup poll released today shows that Americans hold Bush most responsible for the nation's economic troubles.
Folks may still hold Bush's feet to the fire, but they don't want Obama to dwell upon recent history and would prefer to look to the future. Their sentiment is reflected in an ABC News/Washington Post poll that reflects only 38 percent approval for Obama's economic leadership, compared to 54 percent negative.
In comparison, Mitt Romney 's 35/47 percent numbers aren't much better, but Romney could benefit from a larger share of undecideds. Voters are more familiar with Obama as he nears the midpoint of his fourth year and are more entrenched, which makes the Cleveland speech and other attempts at game-changing persuasion all the more challenging.
Like many liberals, I support Obama but have been frustrated so far with his pro-forma negative campaign tactics. He should be smart enough not to get into a gaffe contest with Romney, who spoke in Cincinnati prior to Obama.
Romney predictably is hammering on Obama's "private sector is doing fine" misstep and today unveiled a new campaign ad which displays three fast tapes of Obama uttering the words, depicted in a sort of rap video staccato style. The Obama team, also predictably, countered with a video of Romney's supposed gaffes, such as, "Corporations are people too, my friend." My question is, why bother with the tit-for-tat? The media already is highlighting these numerous Romney snippets, so why join in the rock throwing?
Obama started to take a more positive tone during his Ohio speech, although not as much as I would prefer. He should go farther down that path.