As I noted earlier today, the key news in the wake of Obama’s speech is that the White House seems to be trying to pull off a dramatic reversal of a dynamic that has failed them in the past. The previous approach was to signal a willingness to compromise at the outset, in an effort to woo Republicans, which only ended up weakening the Dems’ hand in negotiations.
Now the White House is trying a new tack. It is instead insisting that Republicans pass Obama’s whole jobs bill — not just parts of it, as the GOP says it’s open to — and is vowing to take its case to the American people, whether Republicans like it or not.
Jonathan Cohn has a smart post this morning adding another dimension to this idea. “The inside game is over. The outside game begins now,” Cohn writes. By “outside game,” Cohn means that Obama now seems prepared to mount a public campaign for his proposal. Even if it doesn’t get the bill passed, it will “offer voters stark choices about the country’s future” and will “make sure the voters understand those choices.”
Is this how the White House views it? Well, in Virginia today — his first road trip after the speech — Obama amplified yesterday’s remarks, repeating the “pass the bill” refrain again and again and calling on voters to pressure Congress to act. Here’s what Obama said:
I’m asking all of you to lift up your voices, not just here in Richmond — anybody watching, listening, following online, I want you to call, I want to email, I want you to Tweet. I want you to Fax, I want you to visit, I want you to Facebook. Send a carrier pigeon.
I want you to tell your congressperson the time for gridlock and games is over, the time for action is now, the time to create jobs is now. Pass this bill! If you want construction workers on the work site, pass this bill. If you want teachers in the classroom, pass this bill. If you want small business owners to hire new people, pass this bill. If you veterans to get their share of opportunity that they helped create, pass this bill. If you want a tax break, pass this bill.
Prove you will fight as hard for tax cuts for workers and middle-class people as you do for oil companies and rich folks. Pass this bill! Let’s get something done.
That sounds like the “outside game” to me. The question, of course, is whether Obama will sustain this approach. White House aides tell Howard Kurtz that Obama plans to do just that — he’ll continue campaigning against the GOP if they refuse to pass the whole proposal, and he does believe he can rally public opinion to his side. Time will tell whether this will work or how long he plans to stick with it, but it really does appear that the White House is trying a new approach, one designed to break the dynamic that has bedeviled Obama for so long.
UPDATE: Post edited slightly for accuracy. Also, Jed Lewison has the video of the Obama event and adds more thoughts.