In making the case for his re--election, US President Barack Obama is arguing that it does not matter who the Republican Party (GOP) nominates to run against him because the core philosophy of the rival party’s candidates is the same and will stand in sharp relief with his own.
The president laid out an argument for a second term in a wide ranging interview on the CBS television news magazine 60 Minutes that aired on Sunday, bluntly saying that if voters believed in the Republican agenda of lower taxes, including for the wealthy, and weaker regulations, then he would lose.
For some time, Democrats and Obama allies have been anticipating that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney would ultimately win the Republican nomination, but with former House of Representatives speaker Newt Gingrich now topping many polls of Republican voters, Democrats have begun to train their fire on him.
Obama argued that the two Republicans represent the same fundamental set of beliefs.
“The contrast in visions between where I want to take the country and what ... where they say they want to take the country is going to be stark,” he said. “And the American people are going to have a good choice and it’s going to be a good debate.”
He rejected questioner Steve Kroft’s suggestion that the public was judging him on his performance as president.
“I am being judged against the ideal,” he said. “[US Vice President] Joe Biden has a good expression. He says: ‘Don’t judge me against the Almighty, judge me against the alternative.’”
Obama is counting on voters giving him credit for avoiding a second Great Depression, bailing out the auto industry and passing a signature healthcare law, even while acknowledging that the public is hardly satisfied with the direction of the country.
He also listed such achievements as ending the Pentagon’s policy of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” barring gays from serving openly in the military and the elimination of Osama bin Laden and other top al-Qaeda leaders.
“But when it comes to the economy, we’ve got a lot more work to do,” he said.
He rejected Republican criticism that his economic policies amount to class warfare, saying he is simply trying to restore an “American deal” that focuses on building a strong middle class.
In a major speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, last week, Obama said that even before the recent recession hit, Americans at the top of the income scale grew wealthier while others struggled and racked up debt. He also has called for spending on jobs initiatives and for an extension of a payroll tax cut that would be paid for by increasing taxes on taxpayers who make US$1 million or more.
“There are going to be people who say: ‘This is the socialist Obama and he’s come out of the closet,’” Obama said.
“The problem is that our politics has gotten to the point, where we can’t have an honest conversation about the greatest income inequality since the 1920s and we can’t have an honest conversation about the irresponsibility that resulted in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, without somebody saying that somehow we’re being divisive,” he added.