Humbled by the limits of his authority in Congress, President Obama is turning confidently to the political apparatus that got him re-elected as he wrestles the mighty gun lobby.
"This will not happen unless the people demand it," Obama said Wednesday as he unveiled the most ambitious gun-control agenda in decades.
Mobilizing voters against the GOP and its special-interest allies is part of a broader White House bid to pursue higher taxes, immigration reform, and climate change legislation — so-called third-rail issues that traditionally give Democrats fits.
Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, a confidant of the president, signaled the high-testosterone approach shortly before Obama's announcement on guns, telling MSNBC, "The president has the most exciting campaign apparatus ever built. It's time to turn that loose."
He speculated that the National Rifle Association is lobbying lawmakers with the names and numbers of new NRA members in each congressional district, gun-rights supporters galvanized by the Newtown elementary school massacre. "If the NRA has a list," Gibbs said, "then Obama for America has a bigger list."
OFA is the president's personal political operation, affiliated with the Democratic National Committee. One of the great failings of Obama's first term was his inability to mobilize his election coalition to advance his policy goals from the White House.