Karl Rove makes the case that President Obama’s team is foolish to believe 2012 is like 2004. He argues: “In the April 2004 ABC News/Washington Post poll, 64 percent said they saw Mr. Bush as a strong leader; 36 percent said he was not. Today, just 51 percent see Mr. Obama as a strong leader; 48 percent do not. Among the greatest political assets any president has is the public’s perception of him as a leader.” That is no small matter but there are other reasons for the Obama team to worry.
1. Unemployment was at 5.5 percent in October of 2004. It won’t be close to that in October 2012.
2. Twelve lawsuits under the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act were not filed in 2004 against the Bush administration by Catholic organizations and individuals alleging violation of religious liberty.
3. Bush’s biggest domestic achievements (the tax cut, No Child Left Behind, etc.) were popular. Obama’s “historic,” and arguably only, domestic achievement is very unpopular.
4. The Romney campaign is much better, much feistier than Sen. John Kerry’s crew. I mean going to Solyndra is pretty impressive. (“Thursday’s speech marks [Mitt] Romney’s latest push to intensify attacks over Solyndra, an effort aimed in part at deflecting the Obama campaign’s criticism of Romney’s record at the private equity firm Bain Capital. . . . Republicans have also pounced on a series of e-mails uncovered by House Republican investigators that show administration officials and others raising red flags about the Solyndra loan, even warning the White House in 2010 not to move forward with Obama’s visit to the California plant.”)
5. In 2004 the national debt was about $7.6 trillion about 64 percent of GDP. Currently the debt is about 15.7 trillion, in excess of 100% of GDP.
6. In 2004 Kerry got about 76 percent of the Jewish vote. Obama is now down to 59 percent.
7. The Obama campaign is whining that it can’t raise money. When your campaign depends on burying your opponent in negative ads this is problematic.
8. The Bush campaign successfully pounded down Kerry’s favorability. Under attack from Obama, Romney’s favorability has been climbing.
9. Bush had a second-term agenda. His stump speech included everything from education to flex time to victory in Iraq and Afghanistan to personal retirement plans. Whether those came to fruition or not is immaterial; he had a positive message of what he still wanted to accomplish. Obama’s speeches are virtually all about negative attacks on Romney.
10. Obama’s main defense is to blame others (George W. Bush, especially). That brings us back to Rove: Obama doesn’t seem very presidential.