(WASHINGTON) — When President Obama holds his first public campaign rallies this week, he’ll take direct control of a populist re-election narrative that Vice President Joe Biden and senior Obama strategists have spent weeks honing on the campaign trail.
The message: incumbent Obama is a firewall against a return to the “failed” foreign, social and economic policies of the George W. Bush administration, which are now embodied by presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Romney “basically wants to do what they did before — on steroids,” former President Bill Clinton told a crowd of high-dollar donors at an Obama campaign fundraiser Sunday night, “which will get you the same consequences you got before, on steroids.”
Biden has used a month-long series of five speeches on key campaign issues to methodically lay out the same argument, signaling that Democrats will focus less on positive promises for a second Obama term than on a negative message about Romney.
“He offers his prescription as if somehow it’s a new idea, folks, like something we haven’t seen before, even worse, like something we haven’t actually tried before,” Biden said of Romney’s tax-cut focused economic plan during a speech in New Hampshire earlier this month.
“Folks, we’ve seen the movie before,” Biden said. “It doesn’t end well. It does not end well. Where has he been?”
At campaign rallies in Toledo, Ohio, and Davenport, Iowa, Biden highlighted the resurgence of the U.S. auto industry and manufacturing sector — both of which received financial support under the administration — as case studies in contrast with Romney.
The former Massachusetts governor famously opposed the 2009 auto bailout and has suggested the administration’s emphasis on greater investment in U.S. manufacturers may be misplaced.
Biden warned retirees in Coconut Creek, Fla., that a President Romney would “dismantle” Medicare and roll back health care benefits for women, including abortion rights and contraception coverage.
The targeted, populist pitch — to which Obama will more forcefully lend his voice this week — tracks closely with positions backed by large or increasing numbers of Americans.
Majorities of voters in recent public opinion polls side with Obama on higher taxes for millionaires and billionaires, for example, and resisting bold changes to Medicare as proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan and backed by Romney.
Growing numbers of Americans also say they support the taxpayer-funded auto bailout, and withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Republicans say Obama’s argument is shaping up as a diversion from the unpopular aspects of his first term, including the health care overhaul and lingering high unemployment.
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