Anticipating Tough Midterm Elections, Obama Mounts Bully Pulpit
by Jules Witcover
Months ahead of the 2014 midterm congressional elections that could make or break the final push for President Obama's legacy, he is revving up a broader outreach effort in the hope of reviving the support and spirit that brought him two terms in the Oval Office.
He says he will make greater use of executive-branch initiatives to achieve aspects of his original agenda for change that have encountered legislative roadblocks over his first three years in the
As reported in the
That notion is a familiar echo of predecessor Bill Clinton's standard rallying cry to Americans "who work hard and play by the rules" to claim their rightful share of the nation's opportunities. It is also an acknowledgment that in Obama's own political depression, marked by a too-slow economic recovery and the stumbling launch of Obamacare, he needs to jump-start a sense of movement on an uncertain national purpose.
But firing up the public in advance of off-year elections is no easy task, in the absence of a heavily reported and advertised presidential contest. Public interest naturally turns to personal matters and a sharp falloff in voters trooping to the polls. It's a hard sell for Obama simply to appeal to his faithful to show up to vote out the rascals who have been plaguing him, especially in traditionally Republican congressional districts where low turnout is usually beneficial to the incumbent candidate.
In all, the president who 14 months ago was comfortably re-elected is now obliged to saddle up again, turning increasingly to his executive options to fire up his own political base and battle for his share of a growing independent core of voters.
Because much of his original agenda has been sidelined by the long slog to restart the nation's economy, he is a lame duck with little time left to reintroduce new objectives and generate public support for them. Unless Obama can convince voters between now and November to give him a
For this reason alone, he must work for and hope that Obamacare comes out of its present difficulties and reaches its ambitious aspirations by
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"Anticipating Tough Midterm Elections, Obama Mounts Bully Pulpit"