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ICYMI: Four Little Words

- July 27, 2012

Why the Obama Campaign is Suddenly So Worried

Excerpts from the Wall Street Journal

By: Kimberley A. Strassel

July 26, 2012

"What's the difference between a calm and cool Barack Obama, and a rattled and worried Barack Obama? Four words, it turns out.

"'You didn't build that' is swelling to such heights that it has the president somewhere unprecedented: on defense. Mr. Obama has felt compelled--for the first time in this campaign--to cut an ad in which he directly responds to the criticisms of his now-infamous speech, complaining his opponents took his words 'out of context.'

"That ad follows two separate ones from his campaign attempting damage control. His campaign appearances are now about backpedaling and proclaiming his love for small business. And the Democratic National Committee produced its own panicked memo... acknowledging that Chicago has lost control of the message...

"The immediate effect was to suck away the president's momentum. Mr. Obama has little positive to brag about, and his campaign hinges on keeping negative attention on his opponent...

"The Obama campaign's bigger problem, both sides are now realizing, is that his words go beyond politics and are more devastating than the Romney complaints that Mr. Obama is too big-government oriented or has mishandled the economy. They raise the far more potent issue of national identity and feed the suspicion that Mr. Obama is actively hostile to American ideals and aspirations. Republicans are doing their own voter surveys, and they note that Mr. Obama's problem is that his words cause an emotional response, and that they disturb voters in nearly every demographic.

"It's why Mr. Obama's 'out of context' complaints aren't getting traction. The Republican National Committee's response to that gripe was to run an ad that shows a full minute of Mr. Obama's rant at the Roanoke, Va., campaign event on July 13. In addition to 'you didn't build that,' the president also put down those who think they are 'smarter' or 'work harder' than others. Witness the first president to demean the bedrock American beliefs in industriousness and exceptionalism. The 'context' only makes it worse...

"This gets to the other reason the Obama campaign is rattled: 'You didn't build that' threatens to undermine its own argument against Mr. Romney. Mr. Obama has been running on class warfare and the notion that Mr. Romney is a wealthy one-percenter out of touch with average Americans. Yet few things better symbolize the average American than a small-business owner..."

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