The problem with Obama's 'revenge'

Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama participates in a campaign rally in Lima, Ohio, November 2, 2012.

My Examiner colleague Byron York has a splendid piece on how the Romney campaign capitalized on Barack Obama’s un-telepromptered remark Friday urging voters in Springfield, Ohio, that “voting is the best revenge.” Byron was at the big (30,000 crowd) Romney event in West Chester, Ohio, and in the crowd ran into Romney media maven Stuart Stevens. It seems that the Romney people heard the Obama speech on a campaign bus and quickly incorporated it into Romney’s speech later Friday in West Chester. “And today—did you see what President Obama said today,” Romney told the cheering crowd. “He asked his supporters to vote—to vote for revenge. Instead, I ask the American people to vote for love of country.”

The Romney campaign quickly put up a spot, linked to in Byron’s blogpost, showing the first part of Romney’s statement, then Obama’s, then the second part of Romney’s statement. Byron got the whole story, before (I think) anyone else in the media. I think the spot is very strong. It shows Romney as presidential and Obama as resentful. Romney is reminiscent of Ronald Reagan, while Obama is reminiscent of Saul Alinsky. The spot undercuts the appeal Obama gained from his 2004 Democratic National Convention speech and his many speeches in the 2008 campaign. “Revenge” is not something sought by most American voters, and 2008 Obama voters who are disappointed in his performance. They are not looking for an Alinsky acolyte to attack enemies for them. Voters want someone who will serve the country. The moment when Obama said "revenge" could turn out to be a pivotal moment in the campaign.

By the way, Springfield is in Clark County. That’s the county that readers of the British left-wing paper the Guardian were urged to bombard with emails urging voters to vote for John Kerry. But Clark County, which voted narrowly for Al Gore in 2000, voted narrowly for George W. Bush in 2004. West Chester is in Butler County, just north of Cincinnati, home base of Speaker John Boehner, who was among the many big names at the Romney rally.

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  • Michael Barone, a political analyst and journalist, studies politics, American government, and campaigns and elections. The principal coauthor of the annual Almanac of American Politics (National Journal Group), he has written many books on American politics and history. Barone is also a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner.

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