Feature

Obama launches campaign

The president kicked off his re-election campaign with fund-raising events and the release of a video.

President Obama kicked off his re-election campaign last week with a flurry of fund-raising events and the release of a video outlining signature achievements of his presidency. Obama held five fund-raisers in Chicago and Atlanta on a single day last week, while Vice President Joe Biden attacked the president’s Republican challengers at a campaign-style event in Ohio. “If you give any one of them the keys to the White House, they will bankrupt the middle class again,” he said. The re-election campaign’s 17-minute video, The Road We’ve Traveled, highlights actions Obama has taken to address the financial crisis, particularly the auto bailout and the stimulus bill. “Let’s remember how far we’ve come,” says the movie’s narrator, Tom Hanks, “and look forward to the work still to be done.”

“Forget all that hopey-changey stuff,” said William Saletan in Slate.com. In The Road We’ve Traveled, members of the Obama administration line up to remind you in somber tones just how bad things were in early 2009, when the economy was in meltdown. The clear message of the re-election campaign is that Obama’s “gutsy” actions have turned things around. Things were bad. “They’re better now. Be grateful.”

“It could have been worse’’ is a pretty weak re-election pitch, said Peter Wehner in CommentaryMagazine.com. Anyone can see that things aren’t better now—we’re still saddled with an entitlement crisis, high unemployment, and a crippling deficit. “Obama’s tenure has been, by any reasonable standard, a failure. Not even a Tom Hanks–narrated documentary can change that.”

Obama did help repair the country’s fortunes, said Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post, but his “reality-based campaign” has been disappointing so far. Americans want a “sweeping, optimistic vision of America’s future,” not a tutorial on the terrible four years we’ve lived through. Obama can’t bank on the Republicans continuing to run an even lousier campaign. He’d better give voters “a reason to get out of bed on Election Day.”

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