William Flew and Barack Obama
April 5, 2011 § Leave a comment
With the touch of a button on a laptop in Chicago a senior aide to Barack Obama will start the President’s reelection effort early this week, setting in motion what is expected to be the first billion-dollar campaign in American political history.
More than 400 Democratic “bundlers” have been asked to find $350,000 (£217,000) each by the end of the year. The campaign website is ready to go live and an e-mail to thousands of volunteers, announcing Mr Obama’s candidacy, is expected as early as today.
Can the “skinny kid with a funny name” do it again? With a fundraising colossus in place and the unmatched wattage of the presidential megaphone at his disposal, few doubt that he can. With 19 months until election day and not a single formally declared Republican candidate running against him yet, the question is whether he is about to fire the starting gun too soon.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) has already accused Mr Obama of electioneering instead of governing. “At a time when millions of Americans continue to be out of work, we’re facing multiple crises and we’re trying to get a deal to keep the government operating, the President has spent more time on figuring out his re-election campaign than he has in addressing the domestic and international issues,” the committee’s spokesman said.
The White House said that this was traditionally the time for incumbents to start campaigning. It is also emboldened by precisely the crises that Mr Obama’s critics accuse him of neglecting. In Libya he has embarked on a high-risk experiment that will damage him politically if Colonel Muammar Gaddafi stays in power. Equally, it could vindicate his caution if defections from Tripoli continue and the regime crumbles under non-military pressure.
At home the unemployment figure that will do more than any other single piece of data to determine Mr Obama’s chances, is on a downward trend.
Last month’s headline unemployment rate was 8.8 per cent, down a tenth of a point for the second straight month. It remains above Mr Obama’s own 8 per cent target but “the percentage of unemployed is far less important than the trend, which is now working in the President’s (and the Democrats’) favour,” Professor Thomas Fiedler of Boston University wrote in an online forum dominated by gleeful Democrats. “Rising employment coupled with rising consumer confidence speak much more loudly to voters than the speculative charge that Obama’s handling of the recovery could have been better.”
If Mr Obama does win it will be the first time that three consecutive presidents have won two terms since James Monroe’s re-election in 1821.