President Obama Gets More Personal

President Obama is getting more personal. As the midterm campaign season hits its stride, the president is reminding voters of his own challenges he faced in the past as the White House seeks to rally Democrats.

The most recent example is his "Back to School" speech Tuesday in Philadelphia, where President Obama drew on his school-age experiences in speech challenging children to grow and learn.

"I wasn't always the best student when I was younger; I made my share of mistakes. In fact, I can still remember a conversation I had with my mother in high school, when I was about the age of some of you here today. It was about how my grades were slipping, how I hadn't even started my college applications, how I was acting, as she put it, "casual" about my future," Mr. Obama told students at the Julia Masterman school in Philadelphia.

"And my attitude was what I imagine every teenager's attitude is in a conversation like that. I was like, I don't need to hear all this. So, I started to say that, and she just cut me right off. You can't just sit around, she said, waiting for luck to see you through. She said I could get into any school in the country if I just put in a little effort. Then she gave me a hard look and added, "Remember what that's like? Effort?"

While Obama mentioned his mother and grandmother frequently during the 2008 campaign, his family has been mostly absent from his speeches recently, even ones where he's tried to connect with voters on a personal level. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters last week that voters can expect to hear more from the president about his life in all sorts of speeches in the near future.

"I think it's a good part of the type of decisions and the type of values that lead to the decisions that he makes as part of our economic recovery. So I do anticipate you'll hear more of it," Gibbs said.

While it appears to be an obvious move, many Democrats wonder why the White House hasn't taken this approach since the 2008 campaign.

"I don't know why he hasn't spoken more personally about himself ‘til now as president. It was one of his strengths during the campaign and the American people of all stripes clearly responded," says Joe Trippi, Howard Dean's 2004 Presidential Campaign manager and a Fox News Contributor.

Trippi says the White House may have been holding off due to recent news, like a poll that says most Americans think the president is a Muslim, but Trippi says the administration should be pushing back with personal stories. "He needs to keep telling it or his opponents will continue to cast his as someone who wasn't even born in America, as many still try to do."

Republican strategists say this is a move by the White House to remind voters of the attributes that got Obama elected in the first place.

"Those attributes -- likeability, relateability, understanding the problems of people, like the average voter -- those have been declining and eroding over the last year and half. This is a concerted effort to repair those broken attributes. If you look at a lot of the polling - people relate less to him, he's a little less likable and becoming out of touch with the concerns of every day Americans," says Kevin Madden who served as the National Press Secretary on Mitt Romney's campaign.

And the White House is taking his "relateablity" to heart, with the president even talking about growing up in a fractured family. In Tuesday's speech, Obama spoke about his father, a connection he did not speak about as often as his mother and grandmother during the 2008 campaign, and made a link between his life and many children today who have their own familial issues.

"When I was your age, I was wrestling with questions about who I was; about what it meant to be the son of a white mother and a black father, and not having that father in my life," Obama said. "Some of you may be working through your own questions right now, and coming to terms with what makes you different. "


President Obama Tuesday, September 14, 2010/Fox News Photo by Craig Savage