President Obama's campaign team issued a blistering attack on the 2012 Republican presidential field in a memo released Monday, suggesting the effort now is to move the election away from talk of jobs and onto other broader issues that campaign officials are betting will give Democrats a leg up.
In the campaign's latest periodic update to supporters, campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt offers specific targets in the GOP field, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Citing nearly a dozen polls and calling the GOP candidates' positions on Social Security, immigration and education "out of step" with America, LaBolt writes that the candidates aren't laying out a plan to promote America's competitiveness, but instead to dismantle its institutions.
"The campaign to win the Republican nomination has become a campaign to win the hearts and minds of the Tea Party. They would return to policies that have been tried before and done nothing to improve economic security for the middle class, rewarding special interests who can afford to pay for lobbyists instead of looking out for working families," reads the LaBolt memo.
LaBolt adds that the future "will be defined by the success of our middle class," but the Republican candidates want to "be champions for large corporations and special interests whose plans would leave working families in the lurch."
With the economy struggling and the president on the trail suggesting the situation would be much worse if Republicans were in office, the memo offers insight into the 2012 Obama playbook, which looks to want to redirect focus from the lingering 9.1 percent unemployment rate and cloud the discussion with broader items like Social Security or GOP reactions to a gay soldier.
The challenge, however, for the campaign, is that the president, by necessity, has to address the jobless rate, and go out on the road to make his case for the $450 billion jobs plan that he wants passed. So far, the constant reprise of the president urging Congress to act has provided little momentum toward pushing the bill into the arms of the Democratic-led Senate.
On Monday, the president tempered his "pass the bill now" mantra and urged Congress to pass the bill by the end of the month.
"It's been several weeks now since I sent up the American Jobs Act and as I've been saying on the road I want it back; I'm ready to sign it. My expectation is that now that we're in the month of October we'll schedule a vote before the end of this month, he said, adding that he will be speaking to House and Senate leaders and "insisting that we have a vote on this bill."
As the president faces the struggle to balance short-term and long-term goals -- and his team takes aim at the GOP field, administration officials say it's unlikely Obama will directly weigh in on the 2012 field, but rather will only occasionally pick and choose his opportunities.
But that didn't stop the president on Saturday night when he hit hard against Republicans during a speech to the Human Rights Campaign, blasting Republicans for not taking to task the few audience members at a Fox News/Google debate who booed after a gay soldier questioned whether any of the candidates would halt the gains made for gay service members.
"We don't believe in the kind of smallness that says it's okay for a stage full of political leaders -- one of whom could end up being the President of the United States -- being silent when an American soldier is booed," Obama said to applause.
Officials say the GOP debate showed insensitivity to military members, and the Obama campaign wants to make 2012 a contest between ideas and values. They add that this was a big opportunity to pick a spot to stake ground, but does not signal Obama's willingness to go head-to-head with the field of opponents.