With two weeks until election day, President Barack Obama unearthed a new campaign message informing voters that he has a plan for the next four years. The change in strategy suggests that his previous strategy of mostly attacking his opponent, Mitt Romney, was no longer working.
"Here's my plan for the next four years ...," Obama says in a new ad.
The campaign has also put together a 20-page document called "The New Economic Patriotism: A Plan for Jobs & Middle-Class Security," also available in .pdf on the campaign website, that claims to detail Obama's plan for a second term. Copies will be handed out to reporters and at campaign stops. The Obama campaign website now has a prominently displayed homepage link titled "President Obama's Plan for a Second Term: Get the Details."
The shift in focus to what Obama would do if given a second term is in response to Romney's criticisms and the concerns of his supporters alike (including Bill Clinton and Nancy Pelosi), who have argued that Obama has not done enough to lay out a vision of what he would do if reelected.
On Sept. 1, journalist Major Garrett wrote an article based on interviews with Obama campaign insiders explaining that they believed they already won the race. They spent large sums of campaign money over the summer to define Romney as an out-of-touch plutocrat and conservative ideologue whose only interest is enriching his wealthy friends as the expense of everyone else. The Obama campaign believed they had so successfully entrenched that image that the race was essentially over.
The Romney campaign "didn't give people anything to grab on to, and they allowed us to define him before he could define himself," senior campaign adviser David Axelrod told Garrett at the time. "And now they are playing catch-up. And now they are running bio ads. The summer is when candidates and races get defined. That's why we made a strategic decision that it was better to muscle up in the summer. I can't think of a presidential race determined by paid media after Labor Day."
The trajectory of the race changed, though, after the first presidential debate on Oct. 3 when voters saw a Romney that was not the caricature that the Obama team had painted. According to the Real Clear Politics average, Obama had a 3.1 percentage point advantage on Oct. 3. On Oct. 24, the day after Obama announced his new campaign strategy, Romney had a 0.9 percentage point advantage.
"The Obama organization did the single best job of destroying a candidate I have ever seen in my career, from May to September," pollster Peter Brown told Politico. "But that all went out the window when Romney showed people that the caricature of him as a clown was false. … Now [Obama]'s got to make the case for himself. If he was ahead now, my guess is he wouldn't have taken the chance of putting all of this out there."
Obama campaign insiders told Politico that they decided not to put out a plan before the debates because they did not want to provide Romney with ammunition that could be used against Obama.
The document, though, is essentially a repackaging of what was already on the campaign website, which The Christian Post covered here and here. While the new campaign document is ostensibly about Obama's plan for the next four years, the vast majority of it lists what Obama has already done.
Also, while the press and Obama have focused much attention on the lack of details in Romney's tax plan, Obama's plan lacks similar details. On MSNBC Tuesday, Axelrod claimed that Obama's 20-page document provided much more detail than Romney's 156-page document.
Romney says he wants to cut tax rates and get rid of deductions and credits to make his plan revenue neutral, but does not specify which deductions and credits should be eliminated.
Obama's plan states that he wants to reform "the corporate tax code to bring down tax rates -- cutting tax rates on domestic manufacturers by nearly a quarter -- while closing tax preferences and loopholes to pay for it."
But the only tax deduction he mentions doing away with is "for companies shipping jobs overseas" -- a deduction that does not specifically exist. A company can, though, deduct moving expenses, regardless of whether the move is inside or outside the United States. Eliminating that deduction, however, will only raise about $168 million over 10 years, which does not come close to being able to pay for a 25 percent cut in rates for domestic manufacturers.