The Corner

Obama’s Narrowing Options

A few months ago I talked to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who mused aloud about Obama’s re-election strategy. “I have thought about this a lot. It’s a hell of a problem he’s got.” In my latest Bloomberg View column I weigh the president’s options.

All the obvious strategies available to an incumbent president running for re-election are foreclosed to him.

He can’t run a “Morning in America” campaign in the style of Ronald Reagan in 1984 or Bill Clinton in 1996. In those years, the country was doing well and felt it. A majority of the public now thinks that we are “on the wrong track” as a nation rather than headed in “the right direction.” The already dismal jobs picture is growing bleaker: Payroll growth slowed and the unemployment rate rose in May, to 8.2 percent. If voters make their decision based on the state of the country, Obama will lose.

Obama can’t run on his record of accomplishments either: Too much of that record is unpopular. . . .

I conclude with some thoughts about his least-bad option.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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