Obama’s message back then was one of optimism—a post partisan America where our leaders would work together and compromise on the issues facing our country, and the bitter, divisive vitriol that defined the end of the Bush years would disappear.
Fast forward to campaign 2012. The relentlessly negative, scorched earth campaigning so looked down upon by Obama 2008 has become standard operating procedure for Obama 2012, and it is taking a toll on his support.
President Obama still commands an impressive audience, but the crowds are smaller and considerably more subdued. Obama is older, greyer, and the lines in his face betray his movie star smile. The sparkly optimistic mood from 2008 is gone, as are the people weeping and fainting at the very sight of Mr. Obama in the flesh. The enthusiastic cheers still drown out the commander in chief, but mostly when he is lobbing attacks at his opponent, rather than when he speaks to his own strengths, or his rather vague plans for a second term.
Obama 2008 rarely spoke of John McCain by name; Obama 2012 mentions Romney and Ryan by name at every turn. The mere utterance elicits a chorus of boos from the audience, which Obama does very little to quell.
Obama packed the auditorium up at Truckee Meadows Community College last week when he spoke on education, but the mood was a bit flat. The crowd didn’t hush as Obama gave his remarks, and many didn’t look up from the screens of their smart phones as he took the podium. Things didn’t improve much on stage either. Obama has always had a challenge with eye contact and this time he seemed to speak not to the crowd, but to his ever-present Teleprompters.
Events like this one offer a window into what the campaign is thinking. Gone are the sports stadiums filled with supporters in Democratic strongholds and invitation-only speeches, in their place are smaller venues in states Obama must win as he tries to limp across the 270 vote mark. Expectations, lowered. Victory, anything but assured.
Hope and change, indeed.
Obama won Nevada by 12 points in 2008. Today, he’s within the margin of error. In 2008 he was well above the magic 50% mark for most of the campaign. Today, he’s in the upper 40’s.
Obama has a path to reelection, but it’s going to be threading the needle. This will mean lots of attention for us here in Nevada, for our six electoral votes are crucial to his strategy. Same goes for states like New Hampshire, with four votes and Iowa with six up for grabs.
I find it interesting that Obama for America has adopted “Forward” as a campaign slogan, for it really makes very little sense. Sure, it looks good emblazoned across a tee shirt, but it starts to get a bit shaky when every speech the President gives blames others for our problems.
The greatest candidate the world has ever known is now merely the President of the United States, and as November grows ever closer, Americans will once again ask themselves “Am I better off than I was four years ago?” when they step into the ballot box.
Yes, our nation is indeed moving forward, but the question is whether or not Obama is leading, following, or simply along for the ride.
Sean Cary is a local business owner, freelance writer, host of Nevada Matters heard on Fox News Radio (www.nevadamatters.us) and pundit on the television show “Nevada Newsmakers.” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and read his blog at www.seancary.com.