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Obama Should Frame 2012 Election as a Choice, Not a Referendum

Yesterday, as Jonathan noted earlier, President Obama told KMBC television:

They do expect that their President is going to be thinking about them every single day. And is going to be focused on how we win the future. And if next November they feel like I’ve been on their side, and I’ve been working as hard as I can, and I’ve been getting some things done to move us in the right direction, I’ll win. If they don’t, then I’ll lose. And that’s not to say the other candidate is irrelevant. But it does mean I’ll probably win or lose depending on their assessment of my stewardship.

Those are words the president will come to regret.

Framing the election in the way Obama did is exactly what Obama’s top campaign adviser David Axelrod has been arguing against, insisting the 2012 election will not be a “referendum” but rather a “choice.” Axelrod knows that if the election hinges on the public’s assessment of his stewardship, Obama’s odds on winning re-election will dramatically diminish. The only way he can win is to destroy and delegitimize his opponent. And that is what almost every dime of the hundreds of millions of dollars Obama raises between now and November 2012 will be used for.

Many people believe the election of 1800, between Jefferson and Adams, was the ugliest and most vicious presidential campaign in American history. This one
may give that one a run for its money.



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