Obama believers wait and wonder
TAMPA, Fla. — Since he began campaigning for re-election more than a year ago, President Obama has worried aloud that his supporters may have lost enthusiasm because of the slow pace of the changes he promised.
In 2008, Mr. Obama pledged to put Americans back to work. But four years later, he acknowledges that unemployment and underemployment are still too high.
He promised liberals who were weary of George W. Bush’s war on terrorism four years ago that he would close the detention center for terrorism suspects at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but it remains open.
He excited Hispanic voters by holding out the goal of immigration reform; four years later, the president is trying to mobilize that constituency again with the same promise that has gone unfulfilled.
Now locked in a tight race with Republican nominee Mitt Romney as the campaign heads into the final week, the president is trying to keep his supporters in the fold by arguing that he needs more time to accomplish the goals he laid out in 2008.
“We haven’t finished everything that we want to get done,” Mr. Obama said at a rally in the battleground state of Colorado last week. “That’s why I’m running for a second term.”
The number of people willing to give Mr. Obama the benefit of the doubt is dwindling. Gallup said the president’s job-approval rating suffered its biggest drop last week in more than a year, falling from 53 percent on Wednesday to 46 percent on Friday, a 7-point decline in just three days.
Those who are still eager to give Mr. Obama another chance blame Republicans in Congress for Mr. Obama’s unkept promises.
“What he didn’t get done was mainly what the Republicans blocked, like the jobs bill,” said Roz Dudden, a retired medical librarian from Denver, referring to the second economic-recovery proposal that the president introduced in September 2011 at a cost of nearly $450 billion. “Every time he wanted to do something that was progressive or interesting or that helps the American people, the Republicans blocked him with their ‘no’ votes in Congress.”
“He’s done the best he can,” Mr. Estabrook said. “Being the president, you don’t always get what you think you can get, because it’s got to go through the Congress. That’s the reason why he can’t get a lot done.”
Mr. Obama’s die-hard supporters rarely acknowledge that Congress was controlled by Democrats during the president’s first two years in office, when lawmakers passed his signature health care legislation, as well as an $821 billion economic-stimulus program that the president rarely mentions anymore.
Some voters are just plain misinformed about what Mr. Obama has done over the past four years.
Told that the president had indeed pulled U.S. forces out of Iraq, she replied: “Well, we’ve still got plenty of people over there. They need to come home. I think we need to concentrate on the issues here at home more than overseas.”
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