Recent news reports suggest President Obama is likely to kick off his bid for a second term in the White House at a rally in Chicago on or near April 14.
This may be the official kickoff date, but Obama has been planning and running his campaign for a second term since 2007, when he first announced his intention to be a candidate for the presidency.
It would be interesting to know whether Obama has made any major decision or taken a public stance on any significant issue without first considering how his action or position would affect his chances of winning public votes.
He is a masterful politician surrounded by a close-knit team of talented, tough and perhaps ruthless advisers and consultants.
His 2008 campaign for the Democratic nomination and eventual presidential election was a textbook effort. He put together a highly talented team with a strategy that eventually swamped his closest Democratic competitor, Hillary Clinton, and then defeated the GOP hopeful, Sen. John McCain.
Results of the 2010 state and national elections, with Republicans regaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives and narrowing the Democratic majority in the Senate, along with major Republican gains in statehouses across the country all combined to cause GOP leaders to think they had a fairly good chance of defeating Obama and picking up more seats in the Senate.
There is no room for any cockiness in the Republican Party.
Obama ran a superior campaign in 2008 and he will try to do the same in the 2012 election.
The candidates themselves, their personal, professional and political records, the manner in which they present themselves, their knowledge and understanding of challenges facing this country, their ability to communicate and articulate their positions and even their personal appearance all play a major role in their electability.
However, the 2008 election made clear the role of money.
As the lyrics in the Broadway show “Cabaret” say, “Money makes the world go ’round.” The same is doubly true in politics.
Following the 2008 elections, Dole Institute of Politics Director Bill Lacy, put together a gathering of individuals who played leading roles in the campaign efforts of both Democratic and GOP candidates for the presidency. It was a blue ribbon group of the country’s top political operatives.
At this two-day event, two men who had been intimately involved in the Obama campaign told of the fantastic job Obama supporters had done in organizing and executing the campaign.
First, they had money, perhaps as much as $500 million. They said the campaign had so much money they didn’t know what to do with it. A McCain worker pointed out money was one of the serious negative factors in the senator’s campaign because several times, they just about ran out of money. Lacy, who came in late to run the Fred Thompson campaign, said money and a lack of organization were the major obstacles to getting the Thompson campaign off the ground and gain traction with voters.
Now, Obama spokespeople are talking about raising $1 billion for his re-election effort.
Obama and his staffers refused to accept federal campaign funds because that would have limited how much he was allowed to raise on his own. Public funding of presidential campaigns has been the cornerstone of U.S. politics since the 1970s, but the Obama campaign has made it a relic that will not be used in future campaigns.
In fact, Obama’s fundraising efforts were so good, there were sizable funds left over. During the 2010 elections, some Democratic candidates tried to get Obama to allocate funds to their respective campaigns but were denied because Obama wants an even larger war chest for his own 2012 election.
Will Republicans be able to come anywhere close to Obama in raising money? Not likely.
It may not be right to talk about it or acknowledge it, but money can, and does, win (buy) elections. Would he have been able to beat Clinton and then McCain without his tremendous bank account?
This raises another point. Obama had the best organization of any candidate and this, too, will play a significant role in the upcoming campaign.
His team put together information on millions of people, individuals who contributed money and individuals who agreed to commit time and energy to help elect Obama. The professional use of the Internet in raising money and volunteers was amazing, and these names are still in Obama’s files.
The two Obama staffers at the Dole Institute event told how volunteers did not just agree to knock on doors for a day or two or place “Vote for Obama” signs in front yards. Rather, they agreed to spend a week or even a month to help the campaign. And some helpers were available to move to other parts of the country where Obama may have needed some help.
Again, the names of these individuals still are on Obama’s list of those he can call on to help in the 2012 campaign.
Democratic strategists tried and used every possible means to stir up hatred for Bush and blame Bush for anything wrong on the domestic or foreign scene. Justified or not, it didn’t matter, and the same tactic is being used today to try to justify many of the challenges now facing Obama.
Whether this will be as effective in the 2012 election is yet to be seen.
The Obama re-election campaign has been under way since he moved into the White House. In talk after talk, and in his legislative agenda, whether the subject focuses on clean energy, oil wells, jobs, the environment, the economy, banks, personal income, education, health care, the automobile industry, Social Security, taxes or most anything else, Obama is careful not to say anything that might anger his traditional supporters. For example, even though state after state is facing extreme financial challenges, Obama has waded in to make it clear he will not support any legislation that would harm union members, even if it was in the best interests of the state. Wisconsin and Ohio offer clear examples of how far Obama will go to get the union vote.
In a speech this week, he told an audience his concern about jobs, saying the American dream of every citizen who wants a job having a job is the last thing he thinks about before going to bed and the first thing he thinks about when he wakes up. It may sound good, but if this is the case, it’s far more about how the jobless rate might affect his re-election than about any noble-sounding concern.
Also, as a sign of his campaign, he is using “I” more and more frequently in his speeches, trying to make it clear, not too indirectly or subtly, that it is he who is in charge and if those in his audience want a continuation of his policies, his “fundamental change in this country,” they must vote to keep him in office.
Republicans face an extreme challenge in trying to wrest control of the White House in 2012.
Obama is a tough, well-financed, well-organized and ruthless incumbent!
Three factors will play a great role in whether the GOP can make it a tight race: the president’s actual record, the state of the economy and who is the GOP candidate.