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President Obama and the old college try

at 07:31 AM ET, 11/07/2011

It’s a near-certainty that the economy — measured in political terms by the unemployment rate — won’t have recovered in any meaningful way by November 2012.


President Obama greets people at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, Calif., last month. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
That reality means that for President Obama to win a second term next year, he must convince voters that he is doing everything he can to turn things around — whether or not his actions are working.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll suggests that the incumbent is narrowly getting the benefit of the doubt — at least, at the moment.

Fifty percent of those tested agreed with the statement that Obama is “making a good faith effort to deal with the country’s economic problems, but the Republicans in Congress are playing politics by blocking his proposals and programs” while 44 percent said that the president had not “provided leadership on the economy, and he is just blaming the Republicans in Congress as an excuse for not doing his job”.

(Among registered voters, Obama’s edge disappears, with 46 percent saying he is acting out of good faith and 44 percent saying he isn’t providing enough leadership.)

Not surprisingly, 84 percent of Democrats said Obama was making a “good faith effort,” while 86 percent of Republicans said he had not provided real leadership on the economy.

In a bit of a boost for Obama, 54 percent of independents — that most coveted of voting blocs — said he was making an effort on the economy while 40 percent said he had not led as required on the issue.

Obama and his team recognize the necessity of convincing independents that he is doing all he can to make the economy better.

It’s why the president has signed a series of executive orders aimed at unilateral action on the economy under the “We Can’t Wait” mantra, and focused more and more in his public speeches on Republicans’ unwillingness to back plans and programs that they had supported in past years.

These latest numbers suggest he is winning that argument — albeit narrowly. That’s a good thing for Democrats, because with an unemployment rate almost certain to stay somewhere around its current 9 percent, it may well be the the best chance Obama has to win the economic argument.

Cain says he’s done talking about allegations: Herman Cain says he’s done answering questions about allegations of sexual harassment and that his campaign is getting back on-message.

“If you all just listen for 30 seconds, I will explain this one time,” Cain said in response to repeated questions Saturday, according to the Post’s Phil Rucker: “We are getting back on message. End of story. Back on message.”

(By Sunday, of course, Cain was back on Fox News answering questions about the matter.)

The remarks came at a press conference following a tea party-sponsored debate with Newt Gingrich in Texas, in which organizers attempted to limit questions to policy issues. Eventually, though, questioning turned to the controversy, which led Cain to rebuke the reporters.

This isn’t the first time, of course, that Cain has snapped at . reporters.

And in related news, Jon Huntsman joins the chorus of lower-tier GOP presidential candidates calling on Cain to be more forthcoming. And Haley Barbour joins him.

DeMint says he likely won’t endorse: Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) whose endorsement could swing voters and activists in the all-important early primary in South Carolina and beyond, tell’s the Post’s Marc Thiessen that he probably won’t pick a candidate before the general election.

“I want to announce that I am very unlikely to endorse a candidate in the presidential race,”DeMint told Thiessen, adding: “As we get into next year, if we have two at the top and one is clearly the conservative and one’s not. ... I might look at it again. But my commitment right now is to stay out of it.”

Remember: in 2008, DeMint backed Mitt Romney. But since then, the senator has become something of a hero to the conservative and tea party wings of the party. That means a Romney endorsement is more unlikely but also could help the former Massachusetts governor quite a bit with conservative street cred.

And as Politico notes, DeMint has company as an early state kingmaker who is keeping his powder dry.

Pipeline protesters surround White House: Occupy Wall Street isn’t the only protest movement coming from the left.

Several thousand protesters surrounded the White House on Sunday, demanding that Obama block a proposed oil pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Environmentalists are increasing their pressure against the so-called “tar sands” project. And a planned Dec. 31 administration decision on the project may be delayed.

Obama is in something of a bind here, as the project pits environmentalists who warn of devastating consequences from building the pipeline against labor unions who want the jobs it will bring.

Interestingly. environmental groups are trying to ally with conservatives in Nebraska against the project, due to fears that oil could contaminate a vast aquifer in the plains.

Fixbits:

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) goes after Cain for his changing positions.

A woman who flew with Romney says he was aloof.

Rick Perry’s parents grant a rare interview to the Dallas Morning News.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) gives the early caucus states some love.

Public opinion is very much behind the decision to withdraw from Iraq.

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), whose ex-wife says he owes $100,000 in child support, has won an award from the Family Research Council Action Committee.

It’s crunch time in the race for control of the Virginia state Senate.

Must-reads:

For campaign 2012, anger is the new hope” — Rick Klein, ABC News

A year from Election 2012, a dark mood awaits Obama and GOP rival” — Dan Balz, Jon Cohen and Chris Cillizza, Washington Post

Good news for O’Malley: Democrats fare better in governor races than in 2010” — John Wagner, Washington Post

Abortion resurfaces for GOP field” — Elizabeth Williamson, Wall Street Journal

Five Things to Watch on Election Day” — Julie Sobel and Sean Sullivan, National Journal

Romney, seen as most electable, still struggles to break out of pack, poll shows” — Jon Cohen and Dan Balz, Washington Post

 
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