Tuesday, August 16, 2011

15 months to go, yet Obama already in campaign mode with Midwest journey

Officially, this is not a campaign stunt.
OBAMA: A 3-day Midwest tour

President Barack Obama’s three-day tour by bus of the Midwest is meant to give the chief executive a chance to see with his own eyes just what is happening “out there” in middle America in the wake of all the partisan nonsense that has taken place in the District of Columbia with regards to federal finances and the debt ceiling.

YET WE ALL know that these appearances he is making in assorted small towns that usually don’t get a real live president within their boundaries are going to have the feel of campaign stunts.

Obama wants to use his charm and personality to try to ease the amount of resentment that Republican critics are trying to stir up against the man as their own  party’s presidential dreamers are kicking their own campaigns into gear.

Think of this tour as the antidote to all the rhetoric we’ve heard the past couple of days about how Michelle Bachmann is now a fully-legitimate candidate because she won that straw poll at the Iowa State Fair.

That “win” had so much clout that it actually motivated one of the legitimate GOP presidential candidates (former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty) to drop out.

SO OBAMA WANTS to try to push back before that kind of rhetoric starts to gain too much momentum. Getting buried in bull may be absurd, but it can be politically fatal.

Which is why Obama’s trip (which was planned in advance of that straw poll) comes at a perfect time, as he arrived in Minneapolis on Monday, then boarded the bus upon which he will live through Wednesday – which is the day that he will venture back into his home state of Illinois.
BACHMANN: Obama's opponent?

It also comes at a time when news accounts are being published about the Gallup Organization identifying 12 states that could decide the 2012 presidential elections – states that theoretically could swing to either candidate.

One of the states they identified was Iowa, while also acknowledging that Minnesota is a state taken by Obama in 2008 but that experienced some shifts in partisanship in the 2010 election cycle.

ILLINOIS GETS INCLUDED just because he’s going to be so close to home (in Peosta, Iowa on Tuesday to partake in an economic forum along with Agriculture Secretary – and former Iowa Governor – Tom Vilsack) that we would feel offended if he didn’t drop by.

Atkinson and Alpha – to be exact. He’ll visit those two rural towns on Wednesday before returning to Washington, which in recent years has only paid attention to Northwestern Illinois when the federal government tried to buy the empty state prison in Thompson from Illinois government.

Now I’ll be the first to admit these various forums and town hall meetings are going to be so heavily staged that we’re not going to learn much from the programming itself.

If there is one thing we should pay attention to is the reaction that Obama draws in the surrounding area. Because I have no doubt that the people who get into the events themselves are going to be those partisans who will be on their best behavior.

IT WILL BE others in the area who will have the potential to stir up trouble and express their resentment toward Obama – much of which is due to the fact that he won at all in ’08. And there really isn’t any evidence that the resentment among the people who were against him in the beginning has subsided.

I don’t think an Obama visit this week will reduce the resentment significantly.

If anything, I think the point to having the president in Cannon Falls, Minn., was to appease perhaps just enough people that the urban voter base of Minneapolis and St. Paul that would be inclined to back Obama next year will be significant enough for Obama to “win” Minnesota.

Let’s remember that the Electoral College is a “winner take all” affair.

THE SAME LOGIC goes for Obama’s Iowa appearances on Tuesday, and perhaps even his Illinois stops on Wednesday – although in the latter case I think it is evident that the Chicago metropolitan area has become so large in this state that it shall overcome.
VILSACK: An Obama boost?

The key for Obama in Illinois may well be suburban appearances, particularly in those outer suburbs that once regarded themselves as rural towns; and which some long-time residents wish they could still be.

But with 15 months to go until Election Day, there is still plenty of time for those appearances to take place.

Considering that we got buried in presidential minutia out of Iowa this weekend, I think it won’t be long before we’re all sick and tired of campaign activity before it really gets started.


No comments: