I was shocked during the GOP primaries when Newt Gingrich declared, "I'm going to be the nominee." He wasn't asking voters, he was telling them. That statement said a lot about Newt and why he was destined to lose.
Monday, during an appearance on "The View," President Obama declared, "I'm going to win." In Obama's case, I don't think he meant to say, "I hope to win," or “I think I'm going to win," or "I'm going to work hard for you and try to win," etc. His declarative statement showed what he really believes. There is nothing wrong with confidence, but in his case a little humble appeal for renewed support is in order.
He faces a crisis of confidence with key parts of his 2008 winning coalition. He has some courting to do, but his ego won't let him. Telling those who are frustrated with the status quo and who need a little reassurance that "I'm going to win" is a bit of a deflating turnoff. Why would Obama, the cool, sure-footed master campaigner say such a thing? Obama believes in Obama. He believes he is going to win because he believes any compassionate, thinking person could not possibly vote for anyone else.
Later on "The View" he made another revealing statement. He said "Don't compare me to the almighty; compare me to the alternative." True, but again, why would he say it? It would have been more effective to say that he isn't perfect, but his policies would do more good than those proposed by Romney. But that isn't what he said. He said the other guy is worse than me. This statement telegraphs the personal nature of the campaign he will wage against Mitt Romney. He might as well have said, "If you think I'm bad, wait until I get finished telling you about the other guy."
The negative attacks from both sides are coming, and I'm not suggesting that it is not part of a normal campaign. But it is an unforced error for Obama to openly declare that his campaign is going to be a personal assault on his opponent.
I said yesterday that neither side should panic yet just because of polls. But a campaign should be able to read some tea leaves, and the president should have a better feel for where he is weak and be able to make adjustments.
Romney is proving to be stronger and more resilient at this stage of the campaign than anyone had guessed. Obama's ego is his enemy. He should not panic but he should appreciate that his hold on the presidency is in unexpected danger. He should not be telling voters about his impending 2012 victory; he should be pleading for patience and another chance to do a better job.