Obama quietly prepares for fall as Republicans fight
March 9th, 2012
10:19 AM ET

Obama quietly prepares for fall as Republicans fight

Washington (CNN) - The campaigns of President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney don't agree on much. But on one subject, officials from both sides are in sync.

As the GOP primary race goes into its third official month, the biggest winner appears to be the president.

Referring to rivals Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, a Romney campaign staffer said, "The only person's odds of winning are increasing are President Barack Obama's," arguing it was time for Gingrich and Santorum to depart the race.

Several leading Republicans have publicly echoed that sentiment in recent days, confronted with poll numbers showing the president's job approval rating above 50% for the first time in months - a far cry from last fall when he was mired in the low 40s.

The ongoing Republican infighting has dragged down Romney's favorability rating among swing voters, forced him to awkwardly pivot right from stances that otherwise would have resonated with a broader electorate in the fall and led to a series of gaffes that could have been avoided had the former Massachusetts governor sewed up the nomination weeks ago.

All the while, Obama's own campaign machinations have largely skated under the radar, allowing him to appear to be the adult in the room as the Republican candidates fight over contraception, illegal immigration, the minimum wage and each others' pasts.

In the process, Obama's favorability among key voting blocs such as women and Latinos has jumped significantly. And most important, recent surveys suggest the president has rebounded among independent voters, a swath of the electorate that catapulted him to victory four years ago but had abandoned him during his presidency.

Equally disturbing to Republicans are a series of recent surveys showing the president handily beating Romney in a head-to-head contest, a reversal from October when Romney held a slight lead.

That trend led conservative stalwart George Will last week to forecast Romney is headed for a Barry Goldwater-esque defeat come November.

Ongoing Republican sniping has also allowed the Obama campaign to steadily build its campaign apparatus behind the scenes, opening scores of field offices in every key state out of which staffers and volunteers methodically resurrect the unparalleled get-out-the-vote effort from four years ago.

"We're using this time to build while they're destroying each other," top Obama adviser David Axelrod said earlier this week.

The campaign has also restricted its advertising to one positive spot on the president's energy policy, a subject Democrats believe will be among the key issues in the fall as gas prices rise. The campaign is also set to release a 17-minute documentary-style video next week showcasing the president's achievements during his first term.

At the same time, Obama's lack of a direct opponent has allowed him to stay on message and conduct the re-election bid on his own terms. Conveniently, Obama avoids commenting on his likely Republican opponent until the nomination is actually wrapped up. But that hasn't stopped the president from goading the Republicans at nearly every turn, often trying to upstage them - like his White House news conference on the GOP's Super Tuesday - before every key primary this season.

Of course, it was only four years ago when some Democrats were making similar doom-and-gloom predictions about their own contentious nominating fight, during which then-Sen. Hillary Clinton and Obama exchanged heated rhetoric well into May.

But forecasts that such bickering would harm the eventual nominee's candidacy were all but forgotten two months later when Clinton offered a resounding endorsement of her onetime opponent at the Democrats' national convention. Meanwhile, fears that Clinton's ardent supporters wouldn't vote for Obama come November largely never materialized.

Republicans are holding out hope for a similar outcome on their side, mindful that most Americans aren't paying close heed to the ins and outs of the GOP race.

"I get the feeling there's a real disconnect between the political class that's paying attention to all of this and what the public thinks," said Ari Fleischer, the former press secretary to President George W. Bush and a CNN contributor. He's predicting that most of the GOP infighting will be forgotten once the party rallies around a nominee.

"I'm seeing more and more conservatives who aren't Romney fans starting to say, 'You know what, it's time to start fighting Barack Obama and stop fighting ourselves,' " Erick Erickson, a CNN contributor and founder of Redstate.com, said earlier this week.

But senior officials on the president's campaign argue the parallels between 2008 and 2012 are tenuous at best. For starters, the long Democratic primary campaign four years ago was widely believed to burnish Obama as a candidate. Not so with Romney, who has made a string of verbal missteps and shows little sign of getting more comfortable on the campaign trail.

Democrats also argue the Obama and Clinton sniping pales in comparison to that of the Republican candidates this year, each of whom have spent millions of dollars on negative commercials and have sparred repeatedly during 20 televised debates. The result is a Republican primary electorate largely unsatisfied with its crop of candidates and showing little enthusiasm at the polls.

"That lack of enthusiasm among Republicans is real, and it's unmistakable," said Jim Messina, the president's campaign manager, pointing to low voter turnout figures. Adding to that contention is a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll showing GOP enthusiasm since the fall has ticked down 13 points, to 51%.

Finally, the president's supporters maintain Obama and Clinton did not shift leftward on key positions during their primary battle, forestalling the need for an awkward trek back to the middle during the fall campaign.

In contrast, Romney has been forced to embrace more conservative positions on several key issues that could make courting independents voters difficult come November.

"They think they can wipe the slate clean," Axelrod said. "The American people take his words seriously and his positions seriously ... we're going to hold him to them."


soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. newmoon2

    If the economy keeps percolating along with slow, but steady improvement, President Obama will get his second term. Almost single-handedly, he's pulled the economy back from the abyss and put it back on track. With another four years and the 'learning curve' behind him, he should be able to get much more accomplished!

    March 9, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Name*Liz Carter

      I agree.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Codeblue001

      I voted for Obama in 2008; I plan to vote for him again. Obama has a good chance of getting re-elected; but I would advice his campain not to underestimate his GOP rivals. With that said, and many of you would disagree with me, but I actually believe the republican candidate that has the best chance of victory against Obama is not Romney but Santorum. Reagan had charisma, so does Clinton and Obama. Out of the GOP field Rick Sanctorum is the most charismatic. In a perfect word ideas win election; however this world is far from perfect.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • jerry

      and what have you been smoking? Real unemployment at 19% and job killing policy at every turn...national debit going up 1.5 trillion a year...no budget....the middle east near nuke war....are you out of uyour mind?

      March 9, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Tschrny Wolf

      I AGREE, ALSO WE AMERICANS NEED TO RE-ELECT PRESIDENT OBAMA; NOW THAT HE KNOWS HOW TOUGH GOVERNING UNDER THE DESTRUCTIVE NEGATIVISM OF THE GOP AND THE TEA PARTY, HE IS BETTER PREPARED AND HAS UNDERGONE THE WORST OF THE CONSERVATIVE PRESSURE; EXCEPT THAT ROMNEY GUY IS LIKELY TO GET MORE ABUSIVE AND TRICKY.😦 I WISH HIS MOM WOULD HAVE ABORTED MIT ROMNEY.

      March 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
      • @SHAME ON YOU!

        WHAT A HORRIBLE THING TO SAY, ABORT HIM? DON'T LIKE HIM AS A POSSIBLE POTUS BUT KEEP SUCH PERSONAL ATTAKTS OUT OF THE MIX. I VOTED FOR OBAMA, AND I DIDN'T LIKE A THE NEGATIVE THINGS BEING SAID ABOUT HIM WHEN HE WAS CAMPAINGING CALLING HIM A MUSLIM NOT US CITIZEN BLAH BLAH BLAH, BUT ABORT IS SO NOT OKAY.

        March 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
      • Name*Liz Carter

        True! I agree. This President has really been sent through the 'hallowed halls' of the supremacists, beauracratic 'mill' school of hate, antagonism, sabotagery, lies, backstabbing, biggotry, insubordination, disrespect, obstruction, stone-walling, double-talking, bitchery, whinning and out and out TREASON, just to name a few courses!! I'm positive he will be graduating 'suma cum laude' from that school and be ready and even stronger to face the next four years!! OBAMA/BIDEN 2012!!! YES THEY WILL!!!

        March 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
      • American 1st

        Its too bad it took the president three years to learn that the GOP is impossible, mean, abstinent and will do anything it takes to take out a Democrat. Hillary Clinton knew that. That's why I supported Hillary and why I still support Hillary. She knows how to fight and knows what the GOP is made of and capable of. Obama hasn't gone through anything Hillary hasn't already experienced. If you want to clean house and sweep the GOP from the House and the Senate and keep the White House put Hillary on as VP. Run the tables! Then the Ds will get things done. Bank on it.

        March 11, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • Tschrny Wolf

      RIGHT ON!!! MAY HE WIN AGAIN! VIVA PRESIDENT OBAMA :))))))))))))) RA, RA, RA

      March 9, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Joey

      Single-handedly? How about all us taxpayers that footed the bill for the entire agenda? Lay off the kool-aid pal, you're delusional.

      March 9, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
      • Name*Liz Carter

        Joey, all of us taxpayers have always footed the nations bills. That's not new! We still owe China...who do you think will be paying them back...thanks to the Bush/Cheney war profiteering?? And there's no telling how many other countries we owe at least favors to!!

        March 12, 2012 at 1:27 am |
  2. celebs4ruth

    Ron Paul’s wife, Carol Paul Speaks Out, Says Elections Are Being Stolen!!! (video) http://www.examiner.com/conspiracy-in-denver/carol-paul-election-fraud-confirmed

    Mitt Romney and the Virginia GOP are suspected of election fraud on FOX News (video) http://www.examiner.com/conspiracy-in-denver/romney-virginia-gop-commit-election-fraud-fox-news

    March 9, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Name*Liz Carter

      I believe it!

      March 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Tschrny Wolf

      YES, VERY POSSIBLY, MIT ROMNEY'S ELECTION AGENTS MISCOUNTED VOTES...DISTRACTEDLY? HAHAHAHAHAHA, I DOUBT THEY WILL BENEFIT,...MOST LIKELY THEY WILL END UP IN JAIL, IF ROMNEY "WINS", HE WILL HAVE TO RESIGN, A-LA RICHARD NIXON! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

      March 9, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  3. Name*Liz Carter

    I'm really not surprised at all! These clowns would run through HELL, wearing a pair of gasoline shorts to make sure Obama is a 'ONE TERM PRESIDENT'!! Voter fraud?? They have the nerve to be harping on voter fraud!!! I guess they know all about it. All they have to do is look back at the 'winner votes' of the last administration. This is what they do! Mrs Pauls' husband would be THE ONLY ONE I'd vote for if I had been a Republican. He is the most sensible one of the whole lot of stooges!! That's why the 'cons' don't want him. They want another trick in the Whitehouse!!

    March 9, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Tschrny Wolf

      MIT ROMNEY AND HIS GANG DO NOT REALIZE THEY ARE TRYING TO DEFEAT HISTORICAL EVOLUTIONARY DEVELOPMENT. STALIN MADE THE SAME MISTAKE. TRYING TO FREEZE AMERICAN HISTORY BY BRINGING BACK THE 20'S AD 1930' DEPRESSIONS IS RETROGRADE AND CAN LEAD TO A BLOODY REVOLUTION. INSTEAD PRESIDENT OBAMA MEANS POSITIVE CHANGE BY PEACEFUL MEANS. FRANKLY IT WOULD TAKE MENTALLY RETARDED MINDS TO SUPPORT MIT ROMNEY OR SANTORUM, OR RON PAUL.

      March 9, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
      • Name*Liz Carter

        LOL!! You are so right...one would certainly have to be mentally challenged to vote for any of those stooges. I was just saying out of the whole lot of them...and I had to choose...Ron Paul would be the one I'd choose. I think he might have a little more sense than the rest of them and he isn't anywhere near what we want for a PRESIDENT! In essense...I was just saying he was the best of the mess!! I'd rather chance my vote on the 'LONE RANGER' than anyone of the other 'THREE STOOGES'!! LOL!

        March 11, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  4. MTATL67

    I watch these Republican candidates tear each other down and it's worse than what went down between President Obama and Sec. State Clinton. Which in the end turned out to be one of the greatest partnerships we ever had. President Obama has done what we elected him to do. Job number keep going up unemployment rate stayed around the same. That tells me that if Congressional Republican had done what they were elected to do then unemployment rate would be much lower. It is just sad to watch the Republican party cannibalize itself.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Name*Liz Carter

      Agreed to a certain extent, but honestly and grievous to say, I still don't trust Hillary nor Bill out of sight or in the dark, when it comes to Obama's accomplishments and greatness. As quiet as they try to keep it...it shows. They are still sore-loosers too; just like John McCain and the Rethuglicans! That's just me. I guess I can say I have a case of justifiable paranoia for President Obama and his family.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • @DITTO

      If they would just talk about how they would handle certain policies that they disagree how this Administration has handle it would speak for itself rather than bashing, name calling, and at times outright untrue statements. Wasn't it Mittens who made a statement that the Americans who has lost their jobs and or homes "THEY DIDN'T FAIL, PREZ OBAMA FAILED THEM" REALLY! The economy tanked before Obama took office and yes got worse but GWB administration failed us all and didn't leave Obama a big enough shovel to dig us out of the hole he left us in.
      What did GWB do with the huge surplus left for him by Bill Clinton? How soon they forget, right.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Tschrny Wolf

      I AGREE WITH YOU. RUSH LIMBAUGH SAID YEARS AGO THAT HE DID NOT CARE IF OUR ECONOMY COLLAPSED, AS LONG AS THE PRESIDENCY OF PRESIDENT OBAMA ALSO COLLAPSED. (SOURCE: ABC NEWS, INTERNET ARTICLE, DATE: A YEAR OR TWO AFTER OBAMA WON THE PRESIDENCY. I PRINTED THE ITEM AND FILED IT.

      March 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  5. Whoosh

    VOTER FRAUD best be the main focus this election year , We know the republican'ts will steal an election in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye! If you lie, you'll steal, if you steal...

    March 9, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • jerry

      really? You know obama is lieing when he opens his mouth....

      March 9, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Tschrny Wolf

      I REMEMBER WHEN VIOLENT GANGS ASSAULTED THE POLLS TO BLOCK DEMOCRATIC REPORTS THE SECOND TIME WALKER BUSH RAN FOR REELECTION.😦 CAN THIS BE PREVENTED IN NOVEMBER?

      March 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Joey

      Ha! As if ACORN was completely innocent. They've been convicted of fraud in several states, but never mind, just keep slurping the kool-aid.

      March 9, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  6. Tommy A

    Hey Republicans, you all duped your voters again in 2010. You all ran on the promise of job creation and have yet to pass ANY bill supporting job creation. You've lied to the people, as usual to win an election. You've gained control of the house and have done NOTHING but become OBSTRUCTIONISTS in the maximum capacity. It's time to grow up conservatives.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Tschrny Wolf

      THAT IS A FACT. I READ THAT REPUBLICAN GATES AND OTHERS SAY THEY WOULD NOT CREATE JOBS AS LONG AS PRESIDENT OBAMA GOVERNED😦 THE TEA PARTY AND INDEPENDENTS WERE CHEATED IN A MOST SHAMEFUL WAY😦

      March 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Joey

      You say the economy is improving, well it started after the 2010 cycle. Hey, your mom's pulling into the driveway, better get dressed, head upstairs and tell her you still didn't find a job today because you were too busy on the computer.

      March 9, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • concernedjoy

      That is not true. The House has passed around 30 job bills and sent them to the Senate (but Harry Reid won't allow them to be voted on) WHO is obstructing bills being passed? All the House can do is send what they have to the Democrats in the Senate. SAYING Republicans are doing nothing does not make it true. Many of you know that, but since Obama is running against the House this election, you can't admit there is actual work going on there. It is just hard to get anything passed when the Republicans only control the House. Democrats have the Senate and the White House.

      March 9, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
      • Name*Liz Carter

        I believe that is all lies!! If in fact that is true...they were probably some BS bills they were trying to strap Obama with that would in the long run fail...and then it would suddenly be...Ooooooh' all Obama's fault! He signed in failed jobs policies!! I don't blame them for turning those 30 bills down, if that's true...Republicans are NOT to be trusted...PERIOD!!
        They aren't about to sign on to anything that could eventually or possibly make Obama look good at anything! And that's even at the expense of the whole nation!! They are miserable sick demons!

        March 11, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Name*Liz Carter

      Right Tommy...if the situation in DC was the other way around, 'treasonous' would be the word! They have been lying, obstructive, treasonists! They ought to be called out charged and prosecuted! They should be kicked out...Period! There shoudn't even be a Republican Party anymore!! They've lost their mojo on the masses and have resorted to denial, lies, sabatoge, obstruction and stonewalling!!

      March 11, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  7. jerry

    Hey O'Barry! When did you stoop campaigning? It has been your floppy eared face in our TVs and media almost every day for over 4 years.... blah blah spin spin and still NO JOBs and the middle east is more unstable than it has ever been...We are just soooo sick of you.

    March 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Tschrny Wolf

      NOPE! RATHER MIT ROMNEY APPEARS ALL OVER THE INTERNET, SO OFTEN THAT I FEEL LIKE VOMITING!

      March 9, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
      • Joey

        Watch Obama's new documentary, that'll bring up your lunch.

        March 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  8. RealityBites

    Obama quietly prepares for fall as Republicans fight!?

    Apparently Alexanders been out of the counrty for the last six months..

    March 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  9. Tschrny Wolf

    ANY IDEAS TO STOP THE ROMNEY ELECTORAL GANGS?

    March 9, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Joey

      Hire ACORN and the Black Panthers?

      March 9, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  10. Lefty

    After all that GOP bellyaching about the Affordable Care Act, if they end up nominating Mr. Romneycare, I am going to LMFAO

    March 9, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  11. theoldman

    I believe in the separation of GOP and State !

    March 10, 2012 at 1:35 am |