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Another Empty Slogan

RNC Communications - December 6, 2011

Obama’s Testing Out Yet Another Campaign Slogan, But The American People Want More Than Words

Obama Is Again Switching Messages And Planning To Campaign “As A Populist Defender Of The Middle Class.” “President Barack Obama is setting up to campaign as a populist defender of the middle class, using the fight over his nominee to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the extension of a payroll tax cut.” (Kate Andersen Brower, “Obama’s 2012 Campaign To Take Strategic Shift To Tout President As Populist Defender Of Middle Class,” The Washington Post, 12/5/11) 

Another Month, Another White House Catchphrase.” (Peter Nicholas, “White House Hopes Obama’s Latest Slogan Catches On,” Los Angeles Times, 10/25/11)

  • As The Slogans Come And Go, Does The Public Stop Listening At Some Point?” (Peter Nicholas, “White House Hopes Obama’s Latest Slogan Catches On,” Los Angeles Times, 10/25/11) 

THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN HAS YET TO FIND ITS BUMPER STICKER MESSAGE FOR 2012 AND IS STRUGGLING TO DEFINE THE CASE FOR A SECOND TERM

The Obama Reelection Campaign Does Not Have A Clear Message. “What the Obama Campaign did not have was a message.  In 2008, Obama had won on a promise to change Washington. When that quickly proved impossible, he tried to work with the powers-that-be in Washington to get things done. With the exception of the first stimulus bill and the highly controversial health care legislation, that didn’t really work, either.” (Evan Thomas, Mike Allen, Politico, Playbook 2012: The Right Fights Back, 2011, p 76)

Which Is Causing “Considerable Anxiety Inside the Obama Camp.” “The lack of a message was the source of considerable anxiety inside the Obama camp.” (Evan Thomas, Mike Allen, Politico, Playbook 2012: The Right Fights Back, 2011, p 76)

  • “‘There’s A Bit Of Casting About, Throwing Ideas At The Wall,’ Said An Obama Advisor. ‘Win The Future Followed By We Can’t Wait Followed By – Who Knows What Comes Next?’” (Evan Thomas, Mike Allen, Politico, Playbook 2012: The Right Fights Back, 2011, p 76)

 “For Now, Obama Has No Slogan; The Bumper Sticker Just Says ‘Obama 2012.’” (Evan Thomas, Mike Allen, Politico, Playbook 2012: The Right Fights Back, 2011, p 77)

Watch Axelrod Struggle To Define Obama’s 2012 Message 

MSNBC’s Chuck Todd:  “Let me start with something that caught my attention in the little magazine, eBook thing that Mike Allen and Evan Thomas wrote in Politico. This is what was said in that ‘The Right Fights Back.’ Unnamed Obama Adviser: ‘There’s a bit of casting about, throwing ideas at the wall. Win the future followed by we can't wait followed by – who knows what comes next?’ The issue is the search for a reelection message. In fact, one example given, there is a reason why you only see bumper stickers that say Obama 2012 because you haven't figured out the bumper sticker yet.”

David Axelrod:  “You know, I have a bumper sticker on my car that says Obama 2008. I wouldn't read too much into bumper stickers."

Todd:  “The case for a second term. What's it going to be? I say this, it took Bill Clinton a long time. In fact, one would argue they didn't really find their case until Bob Dole spoke and they said, ‘Oh, we’re going to build a bridge to the 21st century.’ And that’s what they put things around. The case for a second term. How do you reassure and maybe this is simply an Acela corridor issue here in the New York/Washington set, but how do you make the case in a second Obama term we're not going to see more of this gridlock, this polarizing, this partisanship. What's the Obama case for breaking the log jam?”

Axelrod:  “Look, I think the way that we're going to break the log jam is when the president wins re-election.” (MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown,” 12/5/11)

 

OBAMA HAS BEEN SEARCHING FOR A SLOGAN TO REPLICATE HIS “HOPE AND CHANGE” CON OF 2008

Obama’s Latest Slogan: “Change Is”

Lately, Obama Has Been “Deploying The Phrase ‘Change Is.’” “It's been a subtle alteration but an alteration nonetheless. In his past two campaign speeches, President Barack Obama has adopted a construct that puts particular emphasis on how his 2008 promise of change has resulted in practical life improvement. At a fundraiser Wednesday night in New York City, the new line was on display, with the president deploying the phrase ‘Change is’ on a dozen occasions.” (Sam Stein, “Obama Turns To A New Campaign Phrase: 'Change Is,'” The Huffington Post, 12/1/11) 

  • “The Formulation Actually Debuted At A Nov. 14 Obama Campaign Event At The Aulani Disney Resort In Hawaii, Where He Declared ‘Change Is’ On 10 Occasions.” (Sam Stein, “Obama Turns To A New Campaign Phrase: 'Change Is,'” The Huffington Post, 12/1/11)

Obama Originally Tried To Co-Opt Jimmy Carter’s Slogan: “A New Foundation”

Obama “Test-Drove The Phrase ‘A New Foundation’” When He Pushed For “The Big Infusion Of Government Spending” That Was The Stimulus.  “When President Obama came into office a little more than two years ago, he test-drove the phrase ‘A New Foundation’ to describe his vision for the big infusion of government spending that, he then argued, it would take to put the country back on stable ground after the economy had collapsed. But ‘new foundation’ never really caught on, and it seems to have been completely eradicated from the presidential lexicon and replaced by ‘winning the future,’ the phrase the entire Obama White House is using to describe the president’s new vision for more targeted spending in key areas like education, infrastructure and clean energy.” (Sheryl Gay Stolberg, “A ‘Winning’ Slogan For The History Books?,” The New York Times’ The Caucus,” 2/10/11)

  • “It Was To Be His Version Of Franklin Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal.’ It Never Caught On.” (Peter Nicholas, “White House Hopes Obama’s Latest Slogan Catches On,” Los Angeles Times, 10/25/11)
  • “Indeed, Jimmy Carter -- Whose One-Term Presidency No Democrat Wants To Emulate -- Had Trotted Out The Phrase 30 Years Before.” (Peter Nicholas, “White House Hopes Obama’s Latest Slogan Catches On,” Los Angeles Times, 10/25/11)

Before Trying “Yes We Did” In 2010

July 2010: “President Barack Obama Has A New Campaign Slogan. ‘Yes, We Did.’” (Carol E, Lee, “President Obama's New Slogan: 'Yes We Did!,'” Politico, 7/8/10)

Then Started 2011 With “Winning The Future”

To The Long List Of Presidential Slogans – The New Deal (F.D.R.), The New Frontier (J.F.K.) And The Great Society (L.B.J. ) — We Can Now Officially Append ‘Winning The Future.’” (Sheryl Gay Stolberg, “A ‘Winning’ Slogan For The History Books?,” The New York Times’ The Caucus,” 2/10/11)

The Obama White House Used “Winning The Future” To Describe Obama’s New Vision For More Targeted Spending.” “But ‘new foundation’ never really caught on, and it seems to have been completely eradicated from the presidential lexicon and replaced by ‘winning the future,’ the phrase the entire Obama White House is using to describe the president’s new vision for more targeted spending in key areas like education, infrastructure and clean energy.” (Sheryl Gay Stolberg, “A ‘Winning’ Slogan For The History Books?,” The New York Times’ The Caucus,” 2/10/11)

Obama Has Tried To Borrow McCain’s “Country Before Party”

 “In The Summer Of 2008, John McCain Unveiled A New Slogan To Use Against Barack Obama: ‘Country First.’ … Three Years Later, Obama Is Borrowing The Same Theme From His Former Rival.” (Michael Crowley, “Will Obama’s ‘Country Before Party’ Message Work?,” Time’s Swampland,” 9/6/11)

Obama’s “Country Before Party” Slogan Is Just Another Talking Point “Exhausted By Overuse” Used To Try To Sell His Jobs Bill.  “What the President delivered was more of the same: talking points exhausted by over-use. To sell his so-called jobs bill (another stimulus bill that won’t work), he tossed out his standard cliches: Republicans are only for ‘millionaires and billionaires’ and they put ‘country before party.’ Congress should ‘pass our jobs bill,’ which is supported by independent economists and opposed only by corrupt Republicans.” (Editorial, “A Campaign Stop: Obama At Central,” Union Leader, 11/23/11)

And Briefly Tried “Better Together”

Obama’s Youth Network Used The Brand “Better Together.” “The ‘Hope and Change’ theme that resonated in Iowa in 2008 will look more like that ‘Better Together’ brand used by the campaign’s youth network, he said” (Kathie Obradovich, “Obama Needs New Strategy For Change,” The Des Moines Register, 11/27/11)

While September Brought Us “Pass This Bill”

Obama’s “Pass This Bill” Slogan Was Quickly Retired. “’Pass this bill’ looks to have been retired by White House message-makers. The heyday for President Obama’s three-word exhortation came in September, after he put forward his $447-billion jobs plan. Speech after speech, Obama commanded lawmakers to ‘pass this bill.’” (Peter Nicholas, “White House Hopes Obama’s Latest Slogan Catches On,” Los Angeles Times, 10/25/11)

Which Was In Turn Replaced With “We Can’t Wait”

Obama Debuted “We Can’t Wait” In October. “President Obama heads West today with some new executive orders and a new slogan: ‘We can't wait.’” (David Jackson, “Obama’s New Slogan: ‘We Can’t Wait,’” USA Today, 10/24/11)

  • Which Republicans Quickly “Co-Opted.” “Republicans have again co-opted an Obama administration slogan to mock the president.  On Monday, the GOP used Obama's #WeCantWait hashtag to criticize Democrats for the state of the economy.” (Sarah Peters, “Republicans Co-Opt Obama Twitter Hashtag To Attack Economic Record,” The Hill’s Twitter Room,” 10/24/11)

BUT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE NEED MORE THAN WORDS

“But Ultimately It’s Not Words That Will Save Obama. It’s Jobs. And Right Now, There’s Precious Little Sign Of Those On The Dark American Horizon.” (Michael Crowley, “Will Obama’s ‘Country Before Party’ Message Work?,” Time’s Swampland,” 9/6/11)

“In A Perhaps Ominous Sign For Barack Obama As He Seeks Re-Election Next Year, Today's 12% Satisfaction Rating Is No Better Than When He Took Office In January 2009.” (Jeffrey Jones, “Jobs, Economy Remain Dominant Concerns for Americans,” Gallup, 11/14/11)

When Asked For A Single Word About How Respondents Feel About The Country, 58 Percent Had Negative Responses, Including “We’re In The Gutter.” “The poll asked respondents to give a single word or short phrase to best describe how they feel about where things stand in the country. Some of the answers: ‘We are in the dump.’ ‘Very unstable.’ ‘We’re in the gutter.’ ‘Very challenging.’ Overall, 58 percent of these responses are negative, 33 percent are neutral and just 9 percent are positive.” (Mark Murray, “NBC Poll: Despite National Pessimism, Obama Tops GOP Foes,” MSNBC, 11/7/11)

Americans’ Pessimism About The Job Market Has Reached Its Highest Level Of The Past Decade. “Americans' assessments of the job market worsened in November and are now the most pessimistic they have been in the past decade. “(Dennis Jacobe, “Americans’ Perceptions Of Job Market Worst In A Decade,” Gallup, 11/11/11)

  • “Nine In 10 Americans Say It Is A ‘Bad Time’ To Find A Quality Job, While 8% Think It Is A ‘Good Time.’" (Dennis Jacobe, “Americans’ Perceptions Of Job Market Worst In A Decade,” Gallup, 11/11/11)

More Than One In Five Americans Are Economically Insecure. “More than one in five Americans saw at least a quarter of their available household income vanish in the Great Recession, yet lacked a sufficient financial cushion, according to a report released Monday. The situation has left them economically insecure, according to the report, which updates an Economic Security Index created by Jacob Hacker, a political science professor at Yale.” (Tami Luhby, “More Than 1 In 5 Americans Are Economically Insecure,” CNN Money, 11/28/11)

  • Americans Remain “Deeply Pessimistic” About The Economy And The State Of The Nation. “One year out before President Barack Obama faces voters in his bid for re-election, he encounters an American public that remains deeply pessimistic about the state of the country and its economy, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.” (Mark Murray, “NBC Poll: Despite National Pessimism, Obama Tops GOP Foes,” MSNBC, 11/7/11)

Americans Are “More Negative About Their Personal Finances.” “Gallup Daily tracking data show that Americans became more negative about their personal finances last August, just after Congress was wrangling over the federal budget deficit and barely managing to reach a last-minute agreement on postponing steps to cut the deficit.” (Frank Newport, “Fewer Americans Feeling Better About Their Finances,” Gallup, 11/25/11)

  • “Forty-Nine Percent Of Americans Are Feeling Better About Their Financial Situations These Days, Representing A Continuing Downturn From The Average Of 53% Who Were Feeling Better In Mid-Summer.” (Frank Newport, “Fewer Americans Feeling Better About Their Finances,” Gallup, 11/25/11)

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