MORNING MESSAGE: Obama’s Challenge: Answer the Question of What Comes Next
OurFuture.Org’s Robert Borosage: “As Democrats gather in Charlotte, one fundamental challenge remains in President Obama’s re-election campaign. He must use the convention to provide a compelling answer to the basic question on voters’ minds: What does he plan to do to get the economy going and put people back to work? …One thing should be clear. Democrats will not win this election without a bold, populist agenda that shows Americans a way-out of the fix we are in. And that surely is the unfinished business that much get done in Charlotte.
Labor Day’s Union Label
OurFuture.org’s Leo Gerard: “Last week, while Republicans claimed credit for building by themselves everything that’s great in America, President Obama upped the ante on his contention that many achievements are a result of group efforts. The President told 6,500 students at the University of Virginia that securing a tax credit for college tuition, increasing tuition grants and extending low interest interest federal student loans, were all possible ‘because of you.’ President Obama made no claim that he built that by himself. On Labor Day, he recognizes the contributions union and non-union workers made to building this great country. All Americans built that.”
Obama Spends Labor Day With Ohio Union Workers [NPR]: “HORSLEY: It was a very upbeat rally. Toledo, of course, is a big auto manufacturing city. The president had breakfast this morning with three autoworkers, two of whom were out of work for a period a few years ago when Chrysler was going through its bankruptcy. Those workers and a lot more are now back on the job. And Mr. Obama said the government’s auto bailout deserves some credit for Iowa’s economic turnaround with an unemployment rate now well below the national average. OBAMA: I stood with American workers. I stood with American manufacturing. I believed in you. I bet on you. I’ll make that bet any day of the week. And because of that bet, three years later, that bet is paying off for America. HORSLEY: Now, there has been some pushback from Republicans. Ohio’s governor has argued that autos are a relatively small part of that state’s economic recovery. But certainly, for the UAW members who are at the president’s rally today, they’re grateful.”
What’s Next, Democrats?
OurFuture.org’s Richard Eskow asks, “Will Democrats speak for the people?”: “Last week the Republicans gathered under the hurricane skies of approaching autumn, their convocation punctuated by thunder and underlined by rain. But there are storm clouds over Charlotte, too: clouds of cynicism and despair, clouds of joblessness and fear, clouds charged with the ionized smell of burning hope and dying dreams. The GOP’s leaders aren’t ‘robots,’ despite their artificiality, because Asimov’s First Law of Robotics says ‘a robot may not harm humans.’ So they must be something else: living drones, perhaps, deployed by unseen Corporate Persons. Will the Democrats speak for the people? Will they fill Clint Eastwood’s empty chair with human beings of passion and dedication? Or will they pursue a false “centrism,” cheating the country of the debate it so desperately needs?”
Obama gives himself ‘incomplete’ grade on economy: “Reporter Dianne Derby asked Obama, ‘your party says you inherited a bad situation — you’ve had three and a half years to fix it — what grade would you give yourself so far for doing that?’ Replied Obama: ‘You know I would say incomplete. But what I would say is the steps that we have taken in saving the auto industry, in making sure that college is more affordable and investing in clean energy and science and technology and research, those are all the things that we are going to need to grow over the long term.’”
Better Off? You Bet.
GOP Chief: American Not Better Off Under Obama [US News]: “Conservative leaders hammered at President Obama Monday for failing to alleviate the “misery” of Middle America as the Republican National Committee began an elaborate counter-programming operation on the eve of the Democratic National Convention.The GOP theme is the same one Republican challenger Ronald Reagan used successfully in defeating Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter in 1980: Are you better off than you were four years ago?”
DNC 2012: Even Democratic Party faithful want more on economy [Politicoß]: “Delegates at the Democratic National Convention here are the truest of true believers, decked out in red, white and blue “Obama ’12” buttons and energized for the fall campaign. But even they are echoing the question Mitt Romney and the Republicans posed at their convention: Are Americans better off than they were four years ago?”
Swapland’s Michael Grunwald has some simple advice for the Obama team on answering “Are you better off?”: “That’s the question of every election! As a savvy media professional, allow me to suggest an answer: Yes. Four years ago, the U.S. economy was in smithereens. It contracted at an 8.9% annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2008, which is Great Depression territory; at that rate we would have shed an entire Canadian economy in 2009. We lost 800,000 jobs the month Obama moved into the White House. Then Obama passed his $800 billion stimulus — have I mentioned that I wrote a book about the stimulus? — and the second quarter of 2009 reflected the second largest GDP improvement in 25 years and the largest jobs improvement in 30 years.”
Writing in US News, Robert Schlesinger says Republicans are walking in to a trap when they ask “Are you better off?”: “Republicans seem to have hit on a question that has Team Obama fumbling, or at least squirming: Are you better off now than four years ago? Judging by my E-mail inbox yesterday, it’s a question Republicans seem genuinely interested in pursuing. Please do, GOP. It’s a trap. I say this for two reasons. The first is factual, the second political. … On the matter of facts, when President Obama took office in January 2009, the economy was shedding 800,000 jobs per month. Stop for a second and read that again: 800,000 jobs lost per month. The economy has now added private sector jobs for 29 months running. …But it brings me to my second point—why the GOP is walking into a trap if they pursue the “better off” question. Look back at the figures quoted above: 800,000 jobs lost per month; an 8.9 percent annual contraction rate. Is that really the point of comparison to which Mitt Romney and the Republicans want to draw Americans’ attention? Please. Please!”
Dems Ready For Their Turn in Charlotte
“Obama Plays to Win, in Politics and Everything Else” [NY Times]: “Four years ago, Barack Obama seemed as if he might be a deliberate professor of a leader, maybe with a touch of Hawaiian mellowness. He has also turned out to be a voraciously competitive perfectionist. Aides and friends say so in interviews, but Mr. Obama’s own words of praise and derision say it best: he is a perpetually aspiring overachiever, often grading himself and others with report-card terms like ‘outstanding’ or ‘remedial course’ (as in: Republicans need one). As he faces off with Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, Mr. Obama’s will to win — and fear of losing — is in overdrive. He is cramming for debates against an opponent he has called “ineffective,” raising money at a frantic pace to narrow the gap with Mr. Romney and embracing the do-anything-it-takes tactics of an increasingly contentious campaign.”
As It Turns Out, Democrats Could Keep the Senate [National Journal]: “Democrats haven’t entirely leveled the Senate playing field. They still face more exposure to losses and some hurdles, not the least of which is the presidential race. It is possible that President Obama’s expected weak performance in states such as North Dakota and Indiana may prevent Democratic Senate victories there. And the presidential race appears to be making Senate contests in swing states such as Florida and Ohio more competitive than they were just weeks ago. Finally, Democrats will need to work to slow the momentum that Republican nominee Linda McMahon has in Connecticut, a state that should be an easy win for Democrats. Democrats are in better shape than they were six months ago. Their hold on the majority is not guaranteed, but their prospects look more promising than they have all cycle.”
Texas Mayor Is DNC’s First Latino Keynote Speaker: “Julian Castro, the 37-year-old mayor of San Antonio, Texas, has been called the new face of the Democratic Party. And on Tuesday night, he’ll become the first Latino to deliver the keynote speech at the party’s national convention. Over the weekend, parishioners at St. Paul Catholic Church in San Antonio sent off one of their own with a breakfast taco rally. …The mayor told the crowd that when he speaks at the convention, he ‘won’t be talking to any empty chairs up there.’ He said he did watch parts of last week’s GOP convention in Tampa, Fla., and he expects a more positive tone at the DNC in Charlotte, N.C. He has been practicing using a teleprompter and tweaking the speech that he says will tell his version of the American dream and explain why he supports Obama’s re-election. ‘I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit nervous — it’s something new,’ Castro said. ‘But by the time I get up there on Tuesday night, I’ll be ready.’”
Romney/Ryan: Lying Liars
Paul Ryan: Obama didn’t close the plant [Politico]: “Rep. Paul Ryan said Tuesday that he wasn’t suggesting that President Barack Obama was responsible for the closure of an auto plant in Janesville, Wis., during his convention speech last week. ‘What they are trying to suggest is that I said Barack Obama was responsible for the plant shutdown in Janesville. That is not what I was saying; read the speech. What I was saying is the president ought to be held to account for his broken promises. After the plant was shut down, he said he would lead efforts to restore the plant. It’s still idle,’ said Ryan on NBC’s Today.”
Paul Ryan admits disturbing marathon lie [Kansas City Star]: “When Paul Ryan said last week he had run a sub-3-hour marathon, America’s running community had to be impressed. That’s sub-7-minute miles for 26.2 miles, a tough task for most runners – including young ones, which is what Ryan was when he said he ran his marathon. But it turns out Ryan lied about his marathon performance. As it turns out, Ryan’s lie has become of a disturbing trend for the GOP’s vice-presidential candidate. Give credit to Runners World, the magazine that tracked down the only marathon it could find with Ryan’s name in it: Grandma’s Marathon in Minnesota in the early 1990s.”