President Barack Obama is barnstorming the Midwest this week on a tax-paid but transparently political bus tour. He’s shaking hands, bashing Republicans at every turn in his speeches, meeting with Democratic officials and activists who support his re-election, and otherwise acting just like any other candidate pressing the flesh for votes. All presidents do this during election seasons, of course, and in our view they are justly criticized for using public resources to, at the very least, support their campaign efforts.
And the president’s campaign strategy is already concentrating on the negative. Take, for example, the issue of the three U.S. free-trade treaties pending with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.
Of the South Korean deal, Obama said, “We’ve put together a package that is going to allow us to start selling some Chevys and some Fords to Korea so that ... we don’t mind having Hyundais and Kias here, but we want some ‘Made in America’ stuff in other countries. That’s something that Congress could do right now.”
No, Mr. President, Congress can’t do that “right now” because, before those free-trade treaties can be ratified by the Senate, you first have to submit them to the Senate. Obama clearly knows this.
Nobody should be surprised that the chief executive is willing to distort the facts about those treaties. Obama’s $859 billion economic stimulus program failed to end the recession, majority public opinion is running against Obamacare, unemployment remains above 9 percent, his Gallup approval rating is down to 39 percent, and many economists say there’s a 1-in-3 chance of a double-dip recession. In other words, Obama can’t run on his own record, so he believes he has to run down everybody else’s records to have a chance at a second term.
Last week, Politico reported that the president’s “aides and advisers are preparing to center the president’s re-election campaign on a ferocious personal assault on Mitt Romney’s character and business background, a strategy grounded in the early-stage expectation that the former Massachusetts governor is the likely GOP nominee.”
Politico quoted an anonymous Democratic campaign aide with close ties to the Obama White House who said “unless things change and Obama can run on accomplishments, he will have to kill Romney.”
They will also “kill” Gov. Rick Perry or any other Republican presidential nominee. The Texan had hardly finished his candidacy announcement in South Carolina before Obama strategist David Axelrod trotted out the line that most of the jobs created in Texas under Perry only pay the minimum wage and are mostly in the energy industry.
The reality, according to government data cited by the Political Math.com blog, is that hourly wages in Texas are rising at the sixth-highest rate in the nation, and only about 25 percent of the state’s new jobs are in the energy sector.
Clearly, fact-checkers will have to work double overtime in the months ahead.