Newt Gingrich's dynamic style in his first months of running the House as speaker in 1995 reduced President Bill Clinton to asserting that he was still relevant. Now President Barack Obama seems to be proclaiming much the same thing.
He is running against Republican obstructionism in the House, much as Clinton earlier saw his initiatives stymied by the Gingrich-led House.
Obama blames Republican lack of action on his jobs and other economic legislation for the poor economy.
Trying to prove his relevance, he has given Congress a "to do" list for fixing the economy, a laundry list likely to be ignored by GOP lawmakers.
Similarly, trying to demonstrate he is a player — even though his actual leverage is limited — the president has given European leaders a "to do" list for getting their economic house in order.
"When it comes to this recovery, we can't fully control everything that happens in other parts of the world. But there are plenty of things we can control," he said in his weekend address.
But it's not clear how much blaming economic woes on Republicans and Europe will play with voters.
Such assertions can raise questions in voters' minds about a president's capabilities — and relevance.
His assertion that "the private sector is doing fine" during a Friday press conference didn't help. Republican challenger Mitt Romney quickly jumped on it to suggest Obama was out of touch.
Obama later backtracked, telling reporters "it is absolutely clear the economy is not doing fine."
But it's not going to go away. On Monday, senior political adviser David Axelrod insisted on CBS that voters will decide based on Obama's actions — not words.
Romney was in Atlanta for a fundraiser. Obama was granting White House interviews to local TV anchors from across the country, with no scheduled public events.
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EDITOR'S NOTE_ With 148 days left until Election Day, here are insights into today's highlights in U.S. politics
- Politics & Government
- President Barack Obama
- President Bill Clinton
- Newt Gingrich