Can Obama turn it around?
A feistier President Obama has emerged as he makes the case for his jobs bill. But will campaigning for a plan that faces dim prospects with Republicans be enough to save his presidency?
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“I do think he’s making the best of a bad situation,” says Democratic pollster Mark Mellman. “He’s doing the three things I thought he needed to do: He’s got a sense of passion back. He’s focused on the jobs issue in a way he wasn’t six weeks, two months ago. And he has a plan.”Skip to next paragraph
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Mr. Mellman doesn’t see Obama’s job approval jumping 10 points, up from the low to mid 40s, as a result. But these measures will “stand him in good stead,” he says.
A Gallup poll released Sept. 14 seems to bear that out, with more Americans supporting a jobs plan similar to Obama’s than opposing it. Forty-five percent want their member of Congress to vote for the plan, versus 32 percent who don’t, according to Gallup. Twenty-three percent had no opinion, which buttressed Obama’s decision to go on a selling tour – first to House Republican leader Eric Cantor’s district in Richmond, Va., then to Columbus, Ohio – House Speaker John Boehner’s home turf – then to Raleigh, N.C. On Thursday, he goes back to Ohio.
All three states are 2012 battlegrounds, though the White House insists Obama isn’t on a campaign tour. Republicans laugh at the denials. Either way, frustrated Democrats are cheering him on.
“Most important, the president needs to make people believe, really believe, that he won’t quit, that he’ll fight not for his job but for their jobs – until the bitter end,” former Clinton White House spokeswoman Dee Dee Myers writes in Politico.
The question is, how much of Obama’s package – if anything – can pass. It’s an opening bid, not an ultimatum. Obama himself said he would sign the parts that pass, then keep fighting to pass the rest. Ms. Myers predicts “he’ll get enough,” as long as he shows unrelenting resolve. But on Capitol Hill there’s plenty of skepticism.
Conservatives say that the president is in campaign mode and that his jobs plan is simply a campaign document.
And while Obama is giving Republicans the benefit of the doubt that they’re willing to work with him, other Democrats disagree.