In 2010, Arkansas Rep. Marion Berry recounted talking to a confident President Obama, who had been encouraging wavering, moderate Democrats to support his ambitious legislative agenda because "you've got me." Even though health care and the stimulus didn't poll well in conservative-leaning districts like Berry's, Obama was convinced his personal likeability would be enough to win the day. Instead, he saw valuable political capital spent on a health care law that eventually passed, but cost him control of the House and his then-sterling image.
Fast-forward three years later, and Obama is again showing off. In his gun control press conference Wednesday, he exuded similar confidence, urging the Democratic grassroots in those Congressional districts "where the tradition of gun ownership is strong to speak up and say [passing gun control legislation] is important." He's been looking to pick fights with Congressional Republicans as he begins his second term, not compromise.
Obama is once again hoping his personal brand can transcend the messy game of political wheeling-and-dealing. That's the thinking behind the new 501(c)4 organization being launched by former Obama campaign officials, as the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday. It's seeking to "leverage the campaign's sophisticated organizing tools and rich voter database to support the president's policy objectives," Matea Gold writes. It will be run by Jim Messina, Obama's 2012 campaign manager.