President Obama proudly declared Thursday that "every single one" of his policies is on this year's ballot -- and may have carved out a Halloween surprise that comes back to haunt him.
With a little more than a month to go, GOP candidates in tight races already are rolling out slick ads using that quote to hitch their Democratic rivals to some of Obama's most controversial programs.
On Friday, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., each put out ads featuring Obama's remarks from the day before.
Their messages were virtually identical: A vote for the Democrat is a vote for Obama's agenda -- even Obama says so.
The president made the ad-ready remark during a speech Thursday at Northwestern University, where he defended various aspects of his record, including the Affordable Care Act and his stewardship of the economy.
"Now, I am not on the ballot this fall," Obama stressed. "... But make no mistake: These policies are on the ballot -- every single one of them."
With that, the president may have delivered Republican strategists with the 2014 equivalent of "You didn't build that" (his campaign trail gaffe exploited by Mitt Romney's team to paint the president as anti-entrepreneur). It immediately allows Republicans to tie their rivals -- many of whom have distanced themselves from the White House -- to the unpopular incumbent.
In McConnell's new ad, the narrator says of Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes: "Alison Grimes says this election is not about her support for Barack Obama and his failed policies. But Obama himself says a vote for Alison is a vote for his policies."
The ad plays the clip of Obama, and then ends with: "Obama needs Grimes. And Kentucky needs Mitch McConnell." The ad is airing statewide.
Roberts' ad, also airing statewide, takes the same approach, using the remarks to go after independent Greg Orman -- who, after the Democrat in the race mysteriously dropped out, has emerged as a major threat to the longtime Kansas senator.
"Trillions in new debt. ObamaCare. Nearly 10 million Americans unemployed," the narrator says, before playing the Obama quote. "Obama's candidate for Senate in Kansas? Greg Orman. A vote for Greg Orman is a vote for the Obama agenda."
Even before the ads were released, Republican strategists had flagged the president's comments.
"So much for all those Dems trying to convince voters they aren't Obama's rubberstamps," said one email from the Republican National Committee.
Obama delivered a forceful defense of his six years in office in his address on Thursday.
"It is indisputable that our economy is stronger today than when I took office. By every economic measure, we are better off now than we were when I took office," he said, while acknowledging more work to do.
But Gallup polling continues to show more people disapprove of Obama's job performance than approve.
And a new Fox News poll shows that while more people are satisfied with the direction of the country than they were four years ago, a majority still are not. The new poll finds 59 percent are dissatisfied compared to 68 percent in September 2010. Forty percent are satisfied now, up from 32 percent in 2010.
At the personal level, only 24 percent feel their family is better off since 2008.