Published August 14, 2011
Not knowing who the eventual Republican presidential nominee will be in the 2012 election, President Obama's supporters are taking the opportunity to blast all of the GOP candidates, using aggressive language to argue that the crop of contenders is either uninterested or incapable of helping Americans.
Much of the criticism is focused on describing the candidates as lackeys to the Tea Party, which establishment Democrats have classified as right-wing zealots bent on destroying the U.S.
"While protecting tax breaks for the wealthy and big oil while proposing to end Medicare, slash Social Security and pile additional burdens on the middle class might win plaudits with the Tea Party, it's not remotely what the American people are looking for," Democratic National Committee Communications Director Brad Woodhouse said in a statement Sunday after Tim Pawlenty dropped out of the race.
"In a Republican field that has already pledged allegiance to the Tea Party and failed to present any plan that will benefit the middle class or create the jobs America needs to win the future, Governor Perry offers more of the same," Obama campaign spokesman Ban LaBolt said Saturday after Texas Gov. Rick Perry jumped into the race.
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz noted that Obama asked for compromise on a debt reduction plan but all the presidential candidates at the Fox News-Washington Examiner debate on Thursday night agreed that they would not back a deal that would be 10-1 cuts to revenue.
"That's how strangled by the Tea Party that they are, and that's not what Americans are looking for. They're looking for solutions," she said.
"If anyone is in trouble, it's the Republican Party," continued Wasserman Schultz, who was appearing on CBS' "Face the Nation." "Right now, they have a collection of candidates for president who are busy out -- trying to out-right-wing each other. Essentially, they are all so similar that they might as well be Legos; they're that interchangeable."
The latest offensive comes as the president prepares a three-day Midwest bus tour this week aimed at shoring up Obama's dissipating approval ratings. The latest Fox News poll shows just 44 percent of voters would reelect Obama while 42 percent approve of his job performance and 48 percent disapprove. The three-day rolling average last posted by Gallup on Friday put the president's approval-disapproval rating at 42-51 percent.
Those numbers are particularly pertinent as Obama heads to the key swing states of Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa, where his approval, while still above 50 percent in the latter two, including his home state of Illinois, have dropped by 12, 14 and 17 percent, respectively since he entered office.
With unemployment at 9.1 percent or about 14 million unemployed, and 13.5 million people now relying on food stamps, Obama Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said the president's road trip is not a rebuttal to the attention focused on Republicans as a result of the debate and straw poll.
"We sort of have a rule, which is just because Republican candidates are campaigning in a certain state, that doesn't prevent us from going there. Because otherwise we would probably travel nowhere," he said.
Wasserman Schultz added that the president is doing well, but the falling approval numbers reflect anxiety Americans feel as a result of the steep climb the administration has had to pursue to turn around the economy.
"President Obama inherited a huge problem, the worst recession that we've had since the Great Depression, created by the policies, the failed policies of the previous Republican administration, where we went from a record surplus to a record deficit. ... And so working our way out of that problem is incredibly challenging," she said. "I think Americans are appreciative of the hard work and effort and accomplishment that President Obama has made."