President Obama will host re-election rallies on Saturday to try to convince Americans that the country is better off now than it was three years ago. His new campaign slogan, “Forward,” encapsulates his pitch to voters encouraging them to give him a second term. Instead of inspiring enthusiasm, the theme has already invited mockery.
Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, told supporters in Virginia on Wednesday evening, “Forward is his new slogan. Forward what? Over the cliff!” The GOP super PAC American Crossroads put out an advertisement entitled “Backwards,” in which all the video is played in rewind mode. It cites the 34 percent increase in people on food stamps during Mr. Obama’s term, 740,000 lost jobs and the doubling of gas prices. “The only thing moving forward under President Obama?” the narrator asks. “Our national debt, up $5 trillion.”
The seven-minute-long “Forward” video released by the Obama campaign this week opens by laying the blame for the current economy on former President George W. Bush and factors beyond Mr. Obama’s control. The ad then accuses all government inaction on House Republicans (the Democratic Senate gets a pass) and conservative media hosts Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.
The ending offers a litany of accomplishments, half appealing to his liberal base (“guaranteed coverage for contraception,” “fuel-efficiency standards doubling”) and the rest taking credit for things that had nothing to do with him (“U.S. oil production at eight-year high,” “466,000 new manufacturing jobs.”)
The ad will be shown to supporters at rallies this weekend in Columbus, Ohio, and Richmond, Va., for what his campaign is calling “essentially the start of a general election.” Although Mr. Obama has spent the equivalent of more than a month out of the past year raising money for his re-election, he apparently doesn’t consider that to be actually campaigning.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate the Obama campaign’s use of taxpayer dollars to fund those campaign-like events, but the watchdog agency has yet to respond.
Meanwhile, the GOP leader announced his own new slogan on Thursday. “The candidate of ‘hope and change’ has become the president of ‘hype and blame,’” Mr. Priebus told reporters on a conference call. “Excuses don’t pay the mortgage, and casting blame on everyone under the sun doesn’t create a single job.” The party is now selling bumper stickers that say “Hype & Blame 2012” with the Obama rising-sun logo in place of the zero.
“Forward” has long been a favorite slogan of socialists, and it’s telling that Mr. Obama’s strategists have chosen it for a second-term bid. Liberal cable news channel MSNBC spent millions on a “Lean Forward” marketing campaign - but only in left-leaning northeast corridor cities. The choice Mr. Obama’s campaign offers voters in November isn’t forward-looking; it’s the choice of turning the clock back to the tax-and-spend policies of the 1970s.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.