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Is Obama’s Truman-esque approach working?

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It’s been a few months now since President Obama started talking tougher with Republicans in Congress. In a brief press statement Monday, President Obama pushed Congress to find a way to come together for a solution to the growing deficit, adding that middle class Americans can't afford the tax increases that would go into effect next year.

And in the aftermath of the debt-reduction “supercommittee” and its failure to come to an agreement on Monday, it’s worth asking the questions: is this new, Truman-esque tactic actually working?

In policy terms: not yet. And politically, it’s not looking great either.

Republicans say its backfiring, and they’ve got some ammo.

A George Washington University/Politico Battleground poll released last week showed one particular area of movement for Obama. Since May, the number of people who approved of Obama’s ability to deal with Congress has dropped from 49 percent to 38 percent. And while just 44 percent disapproved of his dealings with Congress six months ago, that number has since risen to 58 percent.

On every other issue, Obama’s approval and disapproval stayed in about the same territory over that span, which leads Republicans to suggest Obama’s efforts to rail against the do-nothing Congress aren’t working.

“The high ground that he was trying to grab has disappeared on him,” said GOP pollster Ed Goeas, the Republican half of the Battleground poll. “He’s gone from a net approval in dealing with Congress to net disapproval to deep disapproval.”

Similarly, an AP-GfK poll last month showed the number of people who say Obama is a “strong leader” declined from more than 60 percent earlier this year to 54 percent.

Democrats note that’s still a strong number and speaks to the confidence people have in Obama’s ability to lead. And indeed, the president’s personal qualities have often out-polled his job performance.

“While President Obama laid out a balanced approach to reduce the deficit by $3 trillion, Mitt Romney now wants to absolve Congress of any responsibility to act,” said Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt.

Regardless of the blame game in the aftermath of the supercommittee’s failure, it’s clear that everyone’s reputation — including Obama’s — has taken a hit.

But the declining perception of Obama’s ability to deal with Congress is a particularly interesting one, given the president’s new tack, which is designed to rally the base but could cost the president independents.

In many ways, it’s not surprising to see people start to doubt his ability to deal with Congress; Obama has taken a more partisan tone, far different than the more uniting message of his first few years in office, and that’s bound to create some dissension.

Combine that with the intransigence in Congress and the brinksmanship that has marked the shutdown and debt ceiling debates, and confidence in both Congress and Obama is bound to decline.

And indeed, other polling seems to suggest that Republicans aren’t exactly winning the blame game. A new Quinnipiac poll released Monday showed more people blamed Republicans than blame Obama.

But Obama has further to fall than the Republican Party, and at least for now, his new strategy seems to have hurt his image as a leader. When Obama’s leadership and favorability numbers start to slip below 50 percent is when his strongest qualities have failed him.

The question now is whether the goal — a bruised Republican brand — is worth whatever harmful effects the strategy might have on Obama’s brand.

Romney on the air: Romney is up with his first ad in New Hampshire, and he’s keeping the focus on Obama.

Romney has bought $134,000 worth of time on WMUR-TV for a 60-second ad that hits Obama for the state of the economy and the home foreclosures that have taken place on his watch. The ad overlays audio of Obama in 2008 promising progress on the economy during a visit to New Hampshire with images and words of the continued economic struggles.

It then moves to video of Romney speaking in the Granite State about his plans. “I’ll make sure that America is a job-creating machine like it has been in the past,” Romney says.

The GOP ad wars have been slow to start, with Romney waiting until now to launch his first ads. Only Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Ron Paul have run much in the way of TV ads.

Meanwhile, the liberal blog Think Progress notes that Romney’s ad quotes Obama saying, “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose,” when in fact Obama was quoting an adviser to then-opponent Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). The ad does nothing to suggest Obama is speaking for anyone but himself.

Democrats’ poll shows lead in North Dakota: A poll shocker from North Dakota, as a new Democratic poll actually shows that party leading in what was supposed to be an uphill battle.

The Mellman Group poll for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee shows their new candidate, former attorney general Heidi Heitkamp (D), leading Rep. Rick Berg (R) 47 percent to 42 percent.

The poll also shows Heitkamp leading Berg 51 percent to 30 percent among independents.

Perhaps most interestingly, the poll shows twice as many people rate Berg’s job performance negatively (56 percent) as positively (28 percent).

If these numbers are anywhere close to legitimate, we have much more of a race in North Dakota than we anticipated.

Republicans have pointed out that Democratic polling down the stretch of Berg’s 2010 win over then-Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) was way off the final result.

Fixbits:

Another poll, from CNN/Opinion Research, shows Newt Gingrich overtaking Romney, within the margin of error.

Romney admits he tried both a cigarette and a beer when he was a teen. Both are strictly forbidden in the Mormon faith.

Gingrich says he would teach a free online course from the White House if elected president. So we have that to look forward to.

Roger Ailes was reportedly furious that Sarah Palin didn’t announce her presidential intentions on Fox News.

More Romney cheerleading from Mike Huckabee.

Obama goes on Al Sharpton’s radio show to blast the supercommittee.

Must-reads:

After supercommittee fails, parties pin hopes on 2012 elections” — David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post

For Deficit Panel, Failure Cuts Two Ways” — Binyamin Appelbaum and Annie Lowery, New York Times

Gingrich seeks to prove staying power” — Amy Gardner, Washington Post

Read more on PostPolitics.com

Fact Checker: A guide to supercommittee rhetoric

After deficit failure, parties pin hopes on 2012

In Boston, Romney ‘evolved’ in Mormon leadership

Is Obama’s Truman-esque approach working?

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