"President Obama spoke for 54 minutes and there was not one new idea about how to fix the economy," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor tweeted in response to President Obama's big campaign speech in Ohio Thursday, and he was right! There has been a bit of Democratic panic recently over whether Obama needs to change his message (and for insight into how wise this change might be, note that Mitt Romney also suggested Obama "change course"). But here's some evidence that Obama is not going to change course at all: He talked about how his plan to create jobs -- nearly a year old now -- has been "voted down time and time again." But there's a way to get it passed: "What's holding us back is a stalemate in Washington between two fundamentally different views of which direction America should take. And this election is your chance to break that stalemate." No new ideas, just give the old ones a chance by scaring Republicans a little in November. Still want change? Vote for me again.
Late last night, well before Obama's speechifying today, Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall published a great email from reader "J.R." which explained Obama's consistency:
The key is that a good campaign is built to win over “iffy” voters (i.e., nonpartisan/soft-partisan swing voters and sporadic/new base voters) in November, not to move polling numbers in May or June. Obama isn’t bouncing around searching for something that works, his campaign has made informed decisions about what works that they are sticking with in a succession of messaging over many months. The messaging in the spring and summer is about planting seeds in voters for later.
In 2004, the Bush campaign didn't seem to hurt John Kerry with the "I was for it before I was against it" line in the spring, J.R. says, but sowed enough doubts about Kerry in voters' minds by that November. And in his speech today, Obama showed a similar strategy by continuing to plant the seed that Romney and Republicans don't care about regular people and want to give tax cuts to guys like himself. "If you want to give the policies of the last decade another try, then you should vote for Mr. Romney," Obama said. "No no, you should vote for his allies in Congress and take them at their word and they will take America down this path. And Mr. Romney is qualified to deliver on that plan."