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Posts Tagged ‘George W. Bush’

For Obama, a sudden struggle with personal appeal

In Barak Obama, General News, Political News on November 4, 2013 at 7:50 pm
Hundreds of FBI employees gathered to hear Pre...

Hundreds of FBI employees gathered to hear President Barack Obama’s speech and greet him afterward during his visit to FBI headquarters. White House photographer Pete Souza is to Obama’s left. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

JENNIFER AGIESTA, AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — For years, President Barack Obama’s personal favorability ratings served as a political firewall that sustained him through an economic recession, grueling fights with congressional Republicans, and the grind of a re-election campaign.

But after a rough start to Obama’s second term, Americans increasingly view the president unfavorably. And perhaps most concerning for the White House: an Associated Press analysis of public polling shows it has become more difficult over time for Obama to fully rebound from dents in his favorability ratings.

“It’s a slow cumulative effect,” Republican pollster David Winston said, adding that personal favorability “is a much harder number to move if it starts to go south.”

The public’s increasingly negative view of Obama may be less of a concern for his future given that he is barred from running for re-election. But the president still needs a strong connection with the public in order to rally Americans around his policy proposals and, in turn, to show Congress he remains politically relevant at a time when lame duck status is lurking.

The president’s advisers need only look at Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, to see the impact of a crumbling relationship with the public. Positive impressions of the Republican trailed off in the beginning of 2005 amid public frustration with the Iraq war and the government’s flawed response to Hurricane Katrina. Bush’s favorability rating never recovered and he struggled to fulfill significant policy goals throughout the rest of his presidency.

A series of recent polls show Obama’s personal favorability now leaning negative, including an NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll released last week that found positive views of Obama at the lowest point of his presidency and down 6 points from earlier in October. The drop follows the 16-day government shutdown, the cascade of problems during his health care law’s rollout, and another flood of revelations about U.S. government spying.

White House officials blame the shutdown in particular for Obama’s falling favorability, given that it resulted in shuttering many federal services and furloughs for hundreds of thousands of Americans, while again highlighting the troubled ties between the president and Capitol Hill. But Obama aides note that the impact of the shutdown on congressional Republicans has been even worse, with both their personal and job performance ratings at record lows.

Logo of the United States White House, especia...

Logo of the United States White House, especially in conjunction with offices like the Chief of Staff and Press Secretary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Everybody gets hurt when there’s dysfunction in Washington,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Throughout Obama’s presidency, his job approval and personal favorability ratings have generally risen and fallen in tandem. But his favorability numbers, which often reflect the public’s gut-level reaction to a politician, generally remained the more positive of the two measures.

That, the president’s supporters argue, made the public more likely to give him a chance even when they disagreed with his policies or the direction the country was headed. His strong likability was seen as a particular asset during his 2012 re-election campaign when most polls showed that voters saw him in a more favorable light than his Republican rival Mitt Romney.

“For the president, it’s meant that people have cared about what he had to say because they liked him,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster.

The question for the White House now is whether that dynamic will hold if the public’s personal opinions of the president continue to sour. An Associated Press-GfK poll from early October found that 52 percent of Americans didn’t think Obama was very honest and were split on whether he was even likable.

The president’s favorability has taken hits during other points in his presidency. Most polling found the public’s impression soured in late summer 2011 around the first round of debt ceiling negotiations and again last summer in the midst of his presidential campaign.

Although Obama’s favorability improved somewhat after each hit, he never fully recovered, with each rating rebound peaking below earlier average favorability ratings.

For example, Obama began 2011 with majority favorable ratings in most polling. When the debt ceiling fight pushed his favorability below 50 percent in late 2011, he came back to an average right around 50 rather than above it. This latest battle has led to average ratings in the mid-40s, worse than he’s seen at any point previously.

Past presidents have also struggled to recover from dips in their favorability ratings.

Bush left office with majorities saying they had both a negative impression of him personally and disapproved of his job performance. And former President Bill Clinton’s favorability numbers never recovered after a fall in 1998 as the Monica Lewinsky story unfolded, though his job approval remained strong through his last days at the White House.

Republican President Ronald Reagan evoked the warmest reaction from the American public, leaving office with high job approval numbers, 63 percent according to Gallup polling in December 1988, and a majority holding a favorable impression of him personally.

Source: Associated Press

 

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Obama, Romney views have evolved toward gun rights

In Barak Obama, Mitt Romney, Political News on July 21, 2012 at 3:27 pm

By CONNIE CASS, AP

President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney both have softened their positions on gun restrictions over the years. As they expressed shock and sorrow over the bloodshed at a Colorado movie theater, neither suggested that tougher gun control could make a difference, a notion that has faded from political debate.

Romney signed a ban on assault weapons as Massachusetts governor. But as the presumptive Republican nominee, he now bills himself as the candidate who will protect gun owners’ rights.

Obama called for reinstating the federal ban on assault weapons during his 2008 presidential campaign. But since his election, he hasn’t sought to get that done or pushed other gun control proposals, either.

Neither man is likely to raise gun control as a campaign issue — beyond Romney’s insistence that an Obama presidency is bad for gun owners. Both say they’ll protect the Second Amendment right to bear arms. A look at the evolution of the candidates’ positions and where they stand on guns:

OBAMA

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1997-2004: As an Illinois state senator, Obama supports banning all forms of semiautomatic weapons and tighter state restrictions generally on firearms, including a failed effort to limit handgun purchases to one per month.

2005: In the U.S. Senate, Obama votes against protecting firearms makers and dealers from lawsuits over misuse of their products by others. The bill is signed into law by President George W. Bush.

2008: During his first presidential campaign, Obama supports a return to the federal ban on assault weapons, which began during the Clinton administration and expired under Bush. He also endorses requiring background checks for buyers at gun shows. The National Rifle Association attacks him as an anti-gun zealot — a stand the group continues to take today.

April 2008: Obama is criticized for elitism after sounding dismissive of gun owners in a talk to campaign donors. He said voters in struggling small towns in Middle America “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them” to explain their frustrations.

September 2008: Obama seeks to reassure gun owners: “I believe in people’s lawful right to bear arms. … There are some common-sense gun safety laws that I believe in. But I am not going to take your guns away.” Nonetheless, gun sales go up when Obama wins, apparently because of fear that new restrictions are imminent under his administration.

2009: As president, Obama signs a law allowing people to carry concealed weapons in the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and other national parks and wildlife refuges and another that lets people carry guns in their checked bags on Amtrak trains.

2010: The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence gives Obama a grade of “F” for failing to push even the gun restrictions he supported while campaigning.

2011: Obama says the shooting that severely wounded then-Rep. Gabriel Giffords, D-Ariz., and killed six people should lead to “a new discussion of how we can keep America safe for all our people.” He calls for “sound and effective steps” to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, including strengthening background checks on gun buyers. But he’s short on specifics, and the Obama administration hasn’t proposed any new gun initiatives since then.

March 2012: Obama calls the fatal shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida “a tragedy,” saying Americans should do some soul-searching and “examine the laws” to figure out why it happened. He hasn’t called for any legal changes in response to the case, which mostly brought attention to some states’ “stand your ground” laws making it easier for a shooter to claim self-defense. Indeed, most gun regulations are imposed by states. The primary federal law is the Brady law requiring background checks on firearms purchasers.

July 20: Obama says he’s heartbroken by the Aurora, Colo., movie theater massacre and calls for Americans to unite in prayer for the victims: “If there’s anything to take away from this tragedy it’s the reminder that life is very fragile, our time here is limited and it is precious.”

Asked whether the mass shooting should prompt a new review of gun laws, White House spokesman Jay Carney declines to comment beyond reiterating Obama’s existing stance in support of “common-sense measures that protect Second Amendment rights of Americans, while ensuring that those who should not have guns under existing law do not get them.”

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ROMNEY

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1994: In his unsuccessful challenge to liberal Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Romney sounds moderate on guns, supporting an assault weapons ban and insisting, “I don’t line up with the NRA.”

2002: Running for governor of Massachusetts, Romney says he supports and will protect the state’s “tough gun laws.” The NRA gives his Democratic opponent a higher rating on gun-rights issues and makes no endorsement in the race.

2003: As governor, Romney upsets gun owners by signing a law that quadruples the state’s gun-licensing fee — from $25 to $100 — as part of a widespread effort to eliminate the budget deficit.

2004: Romney signs a Massachusetts ban on assault weapons. He mollifies many gun rights advocates by coupling it with looser rules on gun licenses and an extension of the duration of licenses, reducing the effect of the earlier fee increase.

2005: Declares May 7 as “Right to Bear Arms Day” in Massachusetts.

2006: As he prepares for his first presidential run, Romney becomes a lifetime NRA member.

2007: While campaigning, Romney declares he sometimes hunts “small varmints” — a comment ridiculed by some as an awkward attempt to pander to pro-gun voters.

2008: In a Republican primary debate, Romney says he would have signed the federal assault weapons ban if it came to his desk as president, but he opposes any new gun legislation.

2011: Making his second presidential bid, Romney’s campaigns on a promise to protect and promote the Second Amendment.

2012: Romney tells gun owners that Obama wants to erode their rights. “We need a president who will enforce current laws, not create new ones that only serve to burden lawful gun owners,” Romney told the National Rifle Association’s annual convention. “President Obama has not. I will.”

July 20: Like Obama, Romney avoids talking politics on the day of the Aurora shooting. He says Americans are coming together in their sorrow: “There is something we can do. We can offer comfort to someone near us who is suffering or heavy laden, and we can mourn with those who mourn in Colorado.”

Source:  Associated Press.

 

Ex-President George W. Bush skips GOP convention

In General News, George W. Bush on July 21, 2012 at 2:54 pm

By LAURIE KELLMAN, AP

Former President George W. Bush is skipping the Republican National Convention next month in Tampa, Fla., where presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney will officially become the party’s standard-bearer.

“President Bush was grateful for the invitation,” his spokesman, Freddy Ford, said Friday in an email. He added that the 43rd president “is confident that Mitt Romney will be a great president. But he’s still enjoying his time off the political stage and respectfully declined the invitation to go to Tampa.”

Bush’s presence at the convention could undercut Romney’s argument that he knows better than President Barack Obama when it comes to improving the wobbly economy. A CBS News/New York Times poll this month found more voters say Bush deserves the bulk of the blame for the nation’s economic downturn than think Obama bears a lot of the responsibility. Almost two-thirds of voters think Romney’s economic policies would mirror Bush’s at least somewhat.

Bush was deeply unpopular when he left office in 2009 amid the nation’s worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. He has largely stayed out of politics since returning to Texas with his wife, Laura.

In a recent interview with the Hoover Institution‘s Peter Robinson, Bush left little doubt that he prefers to observe the often-messy process.

“I’ve crawled out of the swamp. And, I’m not crawling back in!” Bush said. “I’m interested in politics. I’m a supporter of Mitt Romney. I hope he does well. But he can do well without me.”

Congressman Poe and Governor Mitt Romney

Congressman Poe and Governor Mitt Romney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

He added that he’s trying to regain some anonymity “as best I can.”

“I really don’t want to be in the public eye anymore and feel a certain sense of liberation not being out there,” Bush said in the interview.

Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, announced earlier this week that he plans to skip the convention for health reasons. That means Romney will accept his party’s nomination without any former GOP presidents in the audience.

The elder Bush’s spokesman, Jim McGrath, said it will be the first time since 1976, when Bush was director of the CIA and refrained from partisan activities, that he won’t attend the Republican Party gathering.

Bush, 88, has a form of Parkinson’s disease that afflicts his legs. He uses a wheelchair or motorized scooter.

Source:  Associated Press.

 

 
 
 
 

Repealing Obama’s health care law won’t be easy

In Health News, Political News on July 16, 2012 at 4:32 pm

By ANDREW TAYLOR, AP 

Yes, if Mitt Romney wins the White House and his Republican allies retake the Senate, he could shred most of President Barack Obama’s health care law without having to overpower a Democratic filibuster.

But it won’t be as easy as some Republicans portend, and it certainly won’t be quick.

Why?

Because any realistic effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act — as opposed to last week’s quixotic vote in the GOP-controlled House — is sure to get jumbled together with lots of other issues, including Medicare, taxes, food stamps and defense spending.

And that’s because Republicans have to first pass a budget. It’s the only way than can invoke special Senate rules that allow legislation to pass with just a simple majority vote — instead of the 60 votes needed in the 100-member Senate to beat a filibuster.

Passing a budget requires answering a raft of questions unrelated to the relatively simple idea of repealing “Obamacare.” How much to cut the deficit? Should Medicare be overhauled and Medicaid bear sharp cuts? Is it realistic to sharply boost defense programs, as Romney would like, in such an atmosphere?

The first step is to pass a budget resolution — a nonbinding, broad-brush outline of budget goals like cutting or increasing taxes, or slowing increases in Medicare. A budget resolution sets the terms for follow-up legislation that’s called a reconciliation bill in Washington argot.

Two years ago, Democrats used a reconciliation bill to enact the health care law with a 56-43, party-line vote in the Senate.

Republicans have a problem in that there’s a lot more on their agenda than just repealing the health care law, and it’s all going to have to be crammed into a budget resolution and follow-up reconciliation bill, too.

“They’re going to want to use that budget resolution to set up a tax bill, they’re going to want to do other deficit reduction,” said Hazen Marshall, a GOP lobbyist and the Senate Budget Committee‘s top aide in 2001 and 2003 when reconciliation bills were used to push former President George W. Bush’s tax cuts through Congress.

“So I would think it’s just going to take some time to get everybody on the same page as to what the budget resolution’s going to look like,” Marshall said.

In 2001, when Republicans set about the relatively simple task of cutting taxes in an era of unprecedented budget surpluses, it took them until Memorial Day to pass the legislation.

What Republicans would confront next year is far more difficult — wrenching cuts to programs popular with voters. A more apt comparison might be the GOP’s budget efforts of 1995, when it took the party until November to complete action on its budget plan.

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts,...

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, 2008 US presidential candidate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“It’s not that it’s not doable. It absolutely is doable,” said a senior House GOP budget aide . “It’s just going to take a lot longer than everybody wants it to. And people aren’t anticipating the pain of each step to get to that point.” The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak on the record.

Republicans currently hold 47 Senate seats. If they take control of the Senate, it’s not likely to be by more than 1 to 4 votes, well short of 60. That would put lots of leverage in the hands of Senate GOP moderates like Susan Collins of Maine and Scott Brown of Massachusetts, should he win his difficult re-election bid.

Both Collins and Brown cast votes earlier this year against the House GOP budget plan, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. At the center of Ryan’s plan was controversial overhaul of Medicare that would transform it into a voucher-like program for those who retire in 10 years. Also voting against Ryan’s plan was Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., who Republicans are counting on to win a Senate seat this fall as a building block to a GOP majority.

Keith Hennessey, a former GOP Senate and White House official, says that if Republicans follow past practice, they’ll try to forge a center-right agreement that includes spending cuts but no tax increases. But he noted that the willingness of some Republicans to embrace tax increases could complicate matters.

“You look at the Republicans and you see that there’s going to be a spectrum on how deep they’re going to be willing to cut various things,” said Hennessey, currently a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. “The question is just how far toward the Ryan plan can you get the moderate Republicans.”

On the other hand, combining the repeal of Obama’s health care law with other GOP priorities like curbing the deficit gives lawmakers who are not part of the leadership plenty of incentive to vote for the package.

“When elections are about certain policies and are defined on that, you’ve got momentum to do those things,” said House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy of California.

A simple-majority reconciliation bill could certainly cover the health care law’s tax increases — including the penalties used to enforce the individual mandate to buy insurance — and subsidies for insurance premiums.

Republicans, however, could not use the filibuster-proof budget process to repeal provisions in the health care that don’t have a direct impact on the government’s balance sheet. For example, it still would likely take 60 Senate votes to repeal the law’s requirement that insurance companies cover people with pre-existing conditions.

Experts say leaving the insurance reforms intact on their own is economically unsustainable because the ratio of sick to healthy people in the plans would be out of balance.

“If you were to remove everything else in reconciliation and be left with the insurance provisions, you have something that everybody recognizes is unworkable,” said former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin. “I think if you take enough out, the rest probably has to go.”

Source:  Associated Press.

 

 
 
 
 

Obama spends nearly $100 million on campaign ads

In Political News on July 14, 2012 at 2:12 pm

By DAVID ESPO, AP

President Barack Obama’s campaign has spent nearly $100 million on television commercials in selected battleground states so far, unleashing a sustained early barrage designed to create lasting, negative impressions of Republican Mitt Romney before he and his allies ramp up for the fall.

In a reflection of campaign strategy, more than one-fifth of the president’s ad spending has been in Ohio, a state that looms as a must-win for Romney more so than for Obama. Florida ranks second and Virginia third, according to organizations that track media spending and other sources.

About three-quarters of the president’s advertising has been critical of Romney as Obama struggles to turn the election into a choice between him and his rival, rather than a referendum on his own handling of the weak economy. Obama’s television ad spending dwarfs the Romney campaign‘s so far by a margin of 4-1 or more. It is at rough parity with the Republican challenger and several outside GOP-led organizations combined. They appear positioned to outspend the president and his allies this fall, perhaps heavily.

The latest attack ad, which began airing Friday, accuses the Republican of favoring a 25 percent tax cut for millionaires, tax breaks for oil companies and corporations that move jobs overseas and a tax increase for working families. By contrast, it says, the president wants “the wealthy to pay a little more so the middle class pays less.”

Democrats and even some Republicans agree the effort to cast Romney as an unfit steward for the economy shows sign of making some headway. Yet GOP strategists hasten to add that the former Massachusetts governor has ample time to counter, particularly with recent signs of a struggling economy and the fall campaign yet to begin.

Romney

Romney (Photo credit: Talk Radio News Service)

“Despite all of the negative advertising from the Obama campaign, polling numbers are exactly where they were before they started this onslaught,” the Romney campaign said in a memo distributed this week, referring to a rolling average of polls.

Yet Romney released a scathing ad on Thursday designed to respond to some of Obama’s charges, the sort of rebuttal that often can signal concern that an attack is hitting home. In 2008, “candidate Obama lied about Hillary Clinton,” the ad said, adding there was no truth to the charges that Romney was associated with companies that outsourced jobs.

Some surveys suggest shifts in the electoral landscape. A recent poll by Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that Romney has lost ground in the past month on the question of which candidate was better able to improve the economy.

“They wanted to define Romney before he could define himself, and by every indication they’re doing a very effective job of that” said Jim Jordan, a Democratic strategist who was campaign manager for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.

According to strategists in both parties, focus groups with voters indicate the public knows relatively little about Romney’s background, making the subject generally fertile territory for anyone trying to create an impression.

Romney has twice run for president. But even in this year’s Republican primaries, his own campaign spent less money on television ads than Restore Our Future, a superPAC that aided him. Most of the outside group’s efforts consisted of attacks on Romney’s GOP rivals, rather than testimonials to his own background and character.

While outside groups make a difference, “what campaigns said about the candidates is the most important thing” in a race, said Terry Nelson, a Republican strategist who had a senior position in President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign.

Another Republican strategist, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid offending the campaign, said Obama‘s commercials attacking Romney are quickly defining him and the strategy is effective.

But Carl Forti, one of the strategists involved with Restore Our Future, said Obama’s strategy is more defensive than it might appear.

“I don’t think he’s got a choice. He has to try to change the dynamic now, but the polling indicates it’s not working. He doesn’t appear to be making any headway in the polls,” he said.

There is no dispute about the intensity of the general election ad wars, which began in April with Rick Santorum’s withdrawal from the race for the Republican nomination.

“There are more advertisers in fewer markets, spending more money and advertising at a higher frequency than in previous elections,” said Elizabeth Wilner, vice president of Kantar Media/CMAG, which monitors advertising.

Wilner said viewers in Columbus, Ohio, “are seeing more ads right now than they were seeing in September of 2008,” a period when campaigns traditionally ramp up for the fall. In Iowa, more money has been spent on television ads per electoral vote than in all of 2008, she added.

Obama’s campaign has launched four commercials this month, including the attack ad that began during the day.

Two others accuse Romney of having ties to companies that outsource U.S. jobs to low-wage countries overseas. The final one says the former governor supported a law to ban all abortions, including in cases of rape and incest, and wants to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Ads in Ohio, Florida and Virginia account for roughly half of the Obama’s campaign ad spending, according to records maintained by groups that track spending and other sources. No Republican has ever been elected president without winning Ohio, and Romney’s chances of a victory would be all but extinguished if the president wins either of the two other states.

The Obama campaign also has advertised in Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, on both broadcast and local cable. In some of those states, it has run Spanish-language commercials.

Source:  Associated Press.

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