Is anybody surprised that Barack Obama will run for reelection next year? Of course not.
For months, Republican presidential hopefuls have been angling toward challenging him next year, and he’s the man to beat. And given how well organized his campaign was in 2008 (not to mention the wake-up his 2010 midterm shellacking provided), you can be sure the last run in his political life will be just as efficient and even better financed.
The fact that Obama will make it official this week starts the clock ticking toward November 6, 2012 – a mere 583 days from now.
“Former West Wing staffer Jim Messina, Obama’s likely campaign manager, has been holding donor meetings around the country, and the president is scheduled to hold a series of fundraisers in New York and California over the next few weeks,” reports Politico.com. “The campaign is expected to raise $750 million to $1 billion.”
“Earlier in March, a Rove-advised group, Crossroads GPS, spent $750,000 in one-week for an anti-union national cable buy slamming Obama,” writes long-time Obama watcher Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times. “These early spots will be Obama hits masquerading as ‘issue’ ads, trying to soften up Obama while the many GOP presidential contenders fight it out in their primaries.”
“Because of the outside money threat, the Obama team, which discouraged independent spending for Obama in 2008, is open to it in 2012,” Sweet writes.
Becoming a campaigner on his own behalf finds Obama in a semi-comfortable position.
The economy is recovering, if slowly. Last week’s employment news helps. And the likely GOP challengers are still jostling for position – those who haven’t already dimmed their chances with verbal faux pas, a shopworn image, or general weirdness.
At the same time, the war Obama inherited – Afghanistan – is now fully his own and seems to have no end in sight. And the conflict in Libya – “Obama’s war” for sure – could turn out messy as well, even though the administration has tried to turn it over to NATO and regional allies as quickly as possible.
Obama spent much of his first year dwelling on health care reform, the outcome of which was not particularly gratifying for his base while providing a major target for “Obamacare” haters.
Liberal columnist E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post recently tweaked Obama for failing to push his own priorities in the congressional budget brawl at a time when GOP lawmakers seem intent on dismantling liberals’ favorite programs.
“The White House is so determined to keep the president antiseptically distant from the untidy wrangling on the budget that it will not even allow its allies in Congress to cite the administration's own analyses of how harmful some of the Republican cuts would be,” Dionne wrote. “They can use the facts, but not let on that the administration put them together. What's up with this?”
Obama is doing so-so in the polls. The latest, according to Gallup, is a 47 percent approval rate – including a (for him) troubling 58 percent disapproval rate on how he’s handled the economy.
On the Sunday talk shows, Republicans needled Obama for launching his reelection campaign at a time when the nation faces the threat of a government shut-down because of budgetary squabbling.
"I find it kind of ironic that the week we're trying to engage the President, the Democrats, and the country with an honest debate about our budget – with real solutions to fix this country's problems and prevent a debt crisis – the president is launching his reelection campaign," said Rep. Paul Ryan on Fox News Sunday.
"You see the president really missing in action, and you see him planning his announcement for his reelection bid next week,” Sen. John Cornyn said on CNN’s State of the Union. “And it's kind of like, where are your priorities?”